Fascinating and haunting Sep 15, 2008
Rick Perlstein has written a phenomenal account of, largely, the years between 1964 and 1972. Why those years? Because in '64, LBJ won the election with about 62% of the vote, a crushing margin. Just eight years later, Nixon did the same thing - for, of course, the other party. What happened in those eight years to switch the national sentiment?
Lots of things, and while many of them have to do with the changing world (Vietnam, Civil Rights), many others were the direct result of Nixon style politics (which, Perlstein and others charge, create a different world, aka Nixonland.)
What's fascinating about the book is how many details a casual observer (or relative youngster) forget - that Watergate broke BEFORE the '72 election, for example.
What's haunting is that you could replace the names from this book with a slew of real people from today's political world and it would read like an analysis of today's politics. And what's sad is when you see people decrying the state of politics for the same reasons they are talking about today. At least one way to read this book (and it seems to be Perlstein's way, based on the last sentence of the book) is that not much has changed, and we are still living in Nixonland.
Truly an important, impressive book and well worth your time.