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Cover image for From the President : Richard Nixon's secret files
From the President : Richard Nixon's secret files
Uniform Title:
Works. Selections. 1988
Publication Information:
New York : Harper & Row, 1988.
Physical Description:
lxvi, 661 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Documents from President Nixon's "Secret File."
Conference Subject:
Added Author:


Call Number
973.924 NIXON

On Order

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist/historian Oudes here does a masterful job sifting through the tens of thousands of documents generated by the White House staff during Richard Nixon's presidency. The title notwithstanding, many of the memos and letters presented here were written by Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Colson and other less well-known figures, as well as by the president himself. Several now familiar themes are reinforced: mistrust of the press, identification of ``friends'' and ``enemies,'' examples of hardball politics of the 1972 campaign and the battles with congressional committees over the release of Watergate documents. Side by side with memos on fairly trivial mattersbirds crashing into the windows of the Oval Office, modern art in U.S. embassies and a semiliterate appeal from Elvis Presley who offered his services as an anti-drug spokesmanare discussions of the weightier issues facing Nixon: normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China, domestic unrest and Vietnam. The book provides an instructive, revelatory look at the character and workings of the Nixon White House. First serial to People. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Ecce homo: an extensive and mind-boggling sampling of revelatory White House memoranda that Richard Nixon tried for 14 years to keep from public purview. In 1974, the government seized the Nixon White House files, including the ""Special Files,"" a cache established in 1972 to hold estrasensitive material. By 1987, Nixon had given up his long legal battle to block release of these Special Files--with the proviso, agreed to by the National Archives, that 150,000 particularly hot pages remain sacrosanct. But someone goofed, and several thousand of those supersecret pages were released along with the rest of the Special Files on May 4, 1987. The core of this book's sampling is formed of that unexpected gold mine, which was discovered by Oudes, a sometime reporter for Time and The Washington Post, in the course of sifting through more than three million Special Files pages. Oudes, who offers a long and thoughtful background introduction, has done a tremendous job here in winnowing down a staggering amount of material into a mesmerizing array of several hundred documents that provide the ultimate insider's brief on the Nixon Administration. Arranged chronologically, the memoranda (and a few tape-recording transcriptions) are to-and-from Nixon, Haldeman, Colson, and a host of others, and cover topics as politically touchy as Nixon's 5/11/70 memo to Haldeman restricting N. Y. Times and Washington Post access to the White House, as bizarre as Bud Krogh's 12/21/70 report on Nixon's meeting with Elvis Presley, and as personal as Nixon's 11/24/69 memo to Haldeman about a planned secret trip to the dentist. Nearly every memo here brightly reflects Nixon's supernally canny intellect and the gnomish mind-set of his men, and is well-worth reading and rereading; but if one stands out, it's Nixon's 3/13/72 report to Haldeman detailing in nine points what's best about Nixon--including ""He never quibbles over debating points""; ""The qualities of subtlety and humor""; and, most apropos, ""The quality of candor. . ."" In short: a grabber from start to finish, and likely to generate enormous interest. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Choice Review

Oudes has assembled a rich sampling of the Nixon "Special Files," opened to the public by the National Archives in May 1987. A useful contribution to documenting the Nixon administration, the collection reveals attitudes, goals, and priorities of the President and his staff. Chronologically arranged, the documents range from trivial notes to important position papers written by Nixon, H.R. Haldeman, Patrick Buchanan, Charles Colson (whose contributions outnumber Nixon's), and other staff members. Public relations considerations pervade even substantive discourse. Domestic issues predominate, but because more than 90 of the documents predate the 1972 election, Watergate-related items are sparse. Oudes acknowledges this is "an interim progress report on the Special Files," and haste to publish is apparent. After his introductory essay, Oudes offers no explanation of the context of documents. The index is principally a name index (citing some individuals by last name only), and some references have been overlooked. Several documents refer to unidentified attachments. College, university, and public libraries. -A. J. Dunar, University of Alabama in Huntsville

Library Journal Review

A year before Nixon resigned from office under the heat of Watergate, he began putting together a ``Special File'' to hide documents which might be considered sensitive, politically or personally. Oudes has compiled these memos (unfortunately by date and not topic) between the President and top subordinates, among key personnel in the White House, and between key personnel and others outside the Oval Office. He chronicles the foibles of a president who exhibited a remarkable penchant for detail and a virtual obsession with getting even with his enemies, and one who was perennially frustrated by the lack of cooperation he received from bureaucracies and his staff. Offered here is a wide-angle view of the last days of President Nixon and his administration. A valuable library addition.-- Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.