November 20, 2008
Alexander Cockburn on Rick Perlstein's Nixonland
A very harsh review, in New Left Review:
Perlstein’s larger historical focus, however, is near glaucoma. His narrative chugs through the late 60s and early 70s, offering scenes that are drearily familiar from the scores of contemporary accounts cited in his many pages of footnotes. The result is prolix, bland and humdrum. The style is indescribable. Here is a sample, from his account of Nixon’s response to a newspaper column by Roscoe Drummond suggesting that he needed to de-escalate in Vietnam, otherwise ‘popular opinion will roll over him as it did lbj’:
At which Nixon thundered upon his printed news summary . . . ‘Tell him that rn is less affected by press criticism and opinion than any Pres in recent memory’. Because he was the president most affected by press criticism and opinion of any president in recent memory. Which if known would make him look weak. And any escalatory bluff would be impossible. Which would keep him from credibility as a de-escalator; which would block his credibility as an escalator; which would stymie his ability to de-escalate; and then he couldn’t ‘win’ in Vietnam—which in his heart he didn’t believe was possible anyway. Through the looking glass with Richard Nixon: this stuff was better than lsd.
Posted by Robin Varghese at 07:19 PM | Permalink