Cover image for The presidency of Richard Nixon
The presidency of Richard Nixon
Small, Melvin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, [1999]

Physical Description:
xix, 387 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E855 .S63 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E855 .S63 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Twenty-five years after Richard Nixon resigned from office, his legacy remains shrouded in controversy. His was a complex, inconsistent, and even contradictory presidency, shaped by the man's personality and political practices and played out during one of America's most turbulent eras. Melvin Small now draws on the latest archival releases to take a fresh look at Nixon and place his administration in proper historical perspective.

Nixon once predicted that by the year 2000 scholars would begin to evaluate his presidency more favorably. Small, however, steers a steady course between Nixon's detractors and apologists to offer the most balanced and thorough coverage yet available of the man's character and accomplishments. He notes many of the solid achievements of Nixon's domestic programs while criticizing some of his more celebrated foreign policies, especially concerning the Third World, and illuminates Nixon's broader influence on American political institutions and culture.

Small's topical approach permits readers to observe the development of an entire domestic program or international relationship over an extended period, making it easier to understand such drawn-out issues as reforming welfare or ending the Vietnam War. Regarding Vietnam, Small integrates military and diplomatic policy with Nixon's efforts to neutralize the antiwar movement. His coverage of White House operations and Nixon's war with the media precedes a particularly insightful chapter on Watergate and the threat of impeachment. A closing chapter on Nixon's post-presidential years reveals facts about his health and his "blackmailing" of both Presidents Bush and Clinton, and a bibliographic essay provides an extensive survey of the Nixon literature.

He was the first president to travel to China and to call for welfare reform, and although he left Washington under a cloud, many of Nixon's ideas and policies have been embraced by Americans--a legacy few presidents can claim. Small's book is a lively and anecdotal account that looks at the many sides of Richard Nixon and comes to grips with both the man and his presidency.

Author Notes

Melvin Small is professor of history at Wayne State University

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this installment of the University Press of Kansas's American Presidency series, Small joins the ranks of the many scholars who have attempted to know and understand Richard Nixon. He gently inverts the conventional wisdom that the Nixon presidency was more notable for its foreign policy than for its domestic achievements. As he tackles his subject with a topical rather than chronological approach, beginning with the Vietnam War, Small takes pains to present all of the domestic and global issues demanding the attention and affecting the decisions of Nixon and his staff at the time. While acknowledging the success of Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in China and the Soviet Union, Small damns the administration for its less-publicized forays in foreign policy, including American involvement in Pakistan, Chile and the Middle East. On the domestic front, however, Small argues that Nixon was the author of unheralded successes. Nixon was the first president to call for welfare reform, and his administration was responsible for enforcing much of the progressive social legislation of the 1960s. Thus, Small credits Nixon with the desegregation of Southern schools, achievements in women's rights and following through on environmental initiatives. Devoted more to the intricacies of policy than to either the dramas of electoral politics or Nixon's tragic character, Small's book is engaging enough to serve as a good introduction for readers who are as interested in the Nixon presidency as they are in Nixon's personality. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Small (Wayne State Univ.) has accomplished no small feat in writing a comprehensive review and analysis of the Nixon presidency in a balanced and thoughtful manner. Nixon still stirs passionate debate, making it most difficult for many to approach the subject without being influenced by partisan or emotional views. In addition to being fair-minded, the book accomplishes the task of providing a fresh analysis on a presidency that has been explored extensively by others. Small sees a stronger domestic policy legacy in the Nixon presidency and a somewhat less praiseworthy foreign policy than other authors. The evidence is substantial, drawn heavily from original source material. The comprehensive bibliography is a wonderful research resource for scholars of the Nixon years. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. M. J. Rozell; University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
Abbreviationsp. xvii
1 Train Whistles in the Nightp. 1
2 Organizing the White Housep. 31
3 Ending America's Longest Warp. 59
4 The Great Gamep. 97
5 Beyond the Grand Designp. 127
6 Law and Orderp. 153
7 Disraeli Reduxp. 185
8 A Private President's Public Relationsp. 215
9 The Road to Reelectionp. 241
10 Watergatep. 269
11 Running for Ex-Presidentp. 297
Notesp. 313
Bibliographical Essayp. 349
Indexp. 371