For the first time, Nixon shares his private thoughts and feelings on his long political career, American and world leaders, his family, and more. ...Show synopsisFor the first time, Nixon shares his private thoughts and feelings on his long political career, American and world leaders, his family, and more. Filled with startling and dramatic revelations, In the Arena is perhaps the most intimate memoir ever written by a major political figure. 16 pages of black-and-white photographs.Hide synopsis
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Why is it pleasurable to read this book ? Because you have the impression of sitting with former President Nixon having him telling you his experience as a politician, truly revealing, with simple but skilled language, anedoctes of his life and his mind about a lot of topics.
I really enjoyed having this presidential chat with President Nixon and every once in a while I will surely have some other ones by reading some passages of " In the Arena", a memoir narrated not in chronological order, but according to certain matters he deals with.
No president in recent history has been less understood than has Richard Nixon. "In the Arena" presents a personal side to RN I never saw. I always thought he was interesting, but if ever someone lacked the textbook "must have's" to get elected to any office - much less president - certainly RN lacked them. He certainly didn't engender the loyalty and affection of FDR, he did not have the directness of Truman, he lacked the likeablility of Ike, he was nowhere near as charismatic as JFK, and even Johnson was "folksey"in comparison. Reagan and Clinton left Richard Nixon in the dust as communicators. Still, with all that said, should anyone ever doubt the value of single minded determination - Richard Nixon's life in politics should dispel it.
What in the book surprised me? For one, I never understood how a Republican president could institute wage and price controls in peacetime. His explanation that the Democrats would have installed them, and that they would have been a permanent part of the US economy was an eye opener. The Democratic party had been and continues to move further to the left so that concern would not have surprised me.
He never says it, but I believe the steady growing influence of the Communists in the workings of the Democratic party probably led to the Watergate break in. I doubt RN sanctioned it beforehand, but he fostered a culture that saw the action as needed and justifiable.
I also came away impressed with his willingness to bide his time and use it wisely to visit with foreign leaders in an unofficial capacity. When he entered the White House in 1969, he probably knew more foreign leaders - past and present - on a first name basis, than has any president before or since.
Another surprise - in spite of poor beginnings and later financial difficulties - he never charged for a speech; Clinton, Gore and even Reagan make small fortunes speaking.
His defeat for the Governor of California convinced him to wait awhile after an election defeat before running again.
I'm also struck by his description of the the defeat of South Vietnam at the hands of the U.S. Congress. It's easy to see the modern Iraq parallel.
Several things puzzled me. One was his willingness to open relations to China, but he expressed no interest in opening a dialog with Cuba. He was willing to accept status quo with The Soviet Union - something Reagan was determined not to do.
On the grounds of his library in Yorba Linda, California, only footsteps from where he is buried - is the house in which he was born. The house is furnished just as it was when he was growing up in it. A cousin saved the furniture, and the school district that previously owned the property had saved the house - albeit for a custodian's residence. How ironic that RN couldn't save his presidency, but others had saved the things that allow us to see how Nixon grew up decades earlier.
He remains someone I'm sorry I never met.
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