Exile The Unquiet Oblivion of Richard Nixon, by Robert Sam Anson


Anson captures the 10 years after Richard Nixon resignation in 1974 and starts out the overview with Nixon talking to his aide Kenneth Clawson about  his life saying: so you are lean and mean and resourceful and you continue to walk on the edge of the precipice because over the years you have become fascinated by how close to the edge you can walk without losing your balance." Followed by the comment, “a man doesn't cry".  The dialog ends with: "There was a silence, and quietly Clawson began to weep. When he looked up, Nixon was weeping as well."

Anson’s view of Nixon’s Exile leans to a preoccupation with the dark and weak side of the man. He uses a passage from Nixon’s very insightful book “Leaders” where he described Abraham Lincoln as a ''supreme idealist'' who nonetheless ''broke laws,'' violated the Constitution, ''usurped arbitrary power,'' and ''trampled individual rights'' in his quest to preserve the Union. ''His justification was necessary,'' wrote Nixon, and he generalized: ''Whatever the field, the crucial moral questions are, in effect, those of the bottom line''

If Anson expected his book to show Nixon as a man who wouldn’t quit and reinvented himself in the eyes of the public and became a valuable source for advice on foreign policy then he failed because he focus seemed preoccupied with showing Nixon as petty and somewhat of a ridiculous figure.

He was critical of the Frost interview of Nixon but didn’t acknowledge that fact that the interview itself showed how the public’s fascination with Richard Nixon has never really stopped.

Nixon’s many post-Watergate books suggest that Anson missed the point that in spite of his weaknesses, Nixon had much of value and interest to say.

Most Controversial Quote

“When the President does it, that means that it's not illegal.”

Richard Nixon Quotes

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

“If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats. But if you take no risks, you win no victories.”

“You must pursue this investigation of Watergate even if it leads to the president. I'm innocent. You've got to believe I'm innocent. If you don't, take my job.”

“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines.”

“You must never be satisfied with losing. You must get angry, terribly angry, about losing. But the mark of the good loser is that he takes his anger out on himself and not his victorious opponents or on his teammates.”

“We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another — until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.”

“Defeat doesn't finish a man, quit does. A man is not finished when he's defeated. He's finished when he quits.”

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