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Nixon's Shadow

The History of an Image


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How an image-obsessed president transformed the way we think about politics and politicians.

To his conservative supporters in 1940s southern California, Richard Nixon was a populist everyman; to liberal intellectuals of the 1950s, he was "Tricky Dick," a devious manipulator; to 1960s radicals, a shadowy conspirator; to the Washington press corps, a pioneering spin doctor; to his loyal Middle Americans, a victim of liberal hatred; to recent historians, an unlikely liberal. Nixon's Shadow rediscovers these competing images of the protean Nixon, showing how each was created and disseminated in American culture and how Nixon's tinkering with his own image often backfired. During Nixon's long tenure on the national stage—and through the succession of "new Nixons" so brilliantly described here—Americans came to realize how thoroughly politics relies on manipulation. Since Nixon, it has become impossible to discuss politics without asking: What is the politician's "real" character? How authentic or inauthentic is he? What image is he trying to project? More than what Nixon did, this fascinating book reveals what Nixon meant.


“A penetrating analysis of how the president's legacy has altered American politics irrevocably.” — Christian Science Monitor

“Enthralling, compulsively readable.” — The Guardian

“[Greenberg] goes boldly where few men (and fewer liberal historians) have gone before.” — Wall Street Journal

“I am hard pressed to think of a book on politics as bracing and original as this one.” — Jeff Greenfield, Washington Monthly

“A richly informed, attractively written history.” — Washington Post Book World

“A brilliant book full of fresh insight and analysis by one of the most original young minds among professional historians. The first serious and comprehensive look at Nixon by a writer of the new generation, Nixon's Shadow is thoroughly fair-minded and yet critical. Under the scholarly microscope Nixon again fails to conceal his self-inflicted wounds.” — Bob Woodward

“Groundbreaking....A landmark in Nixon scholarship.” — Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963

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