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Inside the Nixon Administration: The Secret Diary of Arthur Burns, 1969-1974

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As chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in the seventies, Arthur Burns had a unique view of the Nixon administration. Burns first joined the Nixon administration as an advisor in 1969 and was privy to the dynamics of the president's coterie over the course of six tumultuous years. Now the recently released secret diary of this top-level economist offers a surprisingly candid inside look at Richard Nixon's fall.

The diary tracks Burns's growing awareness of Nixon's ...

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niversity Press of Kansas Kansas Hardcover 144 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. Brand new book. HISTORY. As chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in the seventies, Arthur Burns ... had a unique view of the Nixon administration. Burns first joined the Nixon administration as an advisor in 1969 and was privy to the dynamics of the president's coterie over the course of six tumultuous years. Now the recently released secret diary of this top-level economist offers a surprisingly candid inside look at Richard Nixon's fall. The diary tracks Burns's growing awareness of Nixon's behind-the-scenes maneuverings and worrisome behavior (such as "insane shouting") and reveals how such things undermined his respect and enthusiasm for the president. Perhaps even more telling, Burns's evaluations of his colleagues provide piercing insights into the president's inner circle, including Henry Kissinger ("a brilliant political analyst, but admittedly ignorant of economics"), George Shultz ("a no less confused amateur economis Read more Show Less

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Overview

As chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in the seventies, Arthur Burns had a unique view of the Nixon administration. Burns first joined the Nixon administration as an advisor in 1969 and was privy to the dynamics of the president's coterie over the course of six tumultuous years. Now the recently released secret diary of this top-level economist offers a surprisingly candid inside look at Richard Nixon's fall.

The diary tracks Burns's growing awareness of Nixon's behind-the-scenes maneuverings and worrisome behavior (such as "insane shouting") and reveals how such things undermined his respect and enthusiasm for the president. Perhaps even more telling, Burns's evaluations of his colleagues provide piercing insights into the president's inner circle, including Henry Kissinger ("a brilliant political analyst, but admittedly ignorant of economics"), George Schultz ("a no less confused amateur economist"), John Connally ("a thoroughly confused politician"), and the "vulgarians" H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman—the only people he thought Nixon felt relaxed around.

The Burns diary also offers rare and telling glimpses into the era's economy—particularly an account of how Nixon exerted political pressure to shape monetary policies that helped to fuel the stagflation of the 1970s. The administration sought to close the so-called gold window, an approximate valuation of dollars with gold bullion, by floating the dollar, and the consensus over many years has been that Nixon himself arranged this—speculation now confirmed by Burns's diary. It also underscores the growing pressure Burns felt to serve the needs of Nixon's reelection bid rather than the economic welfare of the nation.

Sequestered for decades and unavailable until 2008, this document reveals an honest and relatively apolitical man surrounded by partisans in top administrative positions who were dishonest, inept—or both. "The President has many shortcomings," wrote Burns. "He has few convictions, but now and then he gets into a euphoric mood where he wants to persuade himself that he's a statesman. But his sycophantic advisers cannot even recognize that."

Deftly annotated by distinguished historian Robert Ferrell, who provides effective historical context and perspective, the Burns diary is a potent—and poignant—testament to the Machiavellian and often Byzantine world of American presidential politics.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Burns (1904–87) served—and survived—as chairman of the Federal Reserve board for the entire Nixon administration. Now Ferrell (history, emeritus, Indiana Univ.; Harry S. Truman: A Life) skillfully edits Burns's diary, first made available from the Gerald Ford Library in 2008, and includes a helpful introduction and brief notes that identify people and events. The diary is distinguished by its brevity. The author rails against Nixon's hacks (as Burns describes them), including H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Charles Colson (who admits Nixon charged him with "getting Burns" to ensure his cooperation), and treasury secretary John Connally, whom the author viewed as an uninformed flatterer. Another interesting entry shows Henry Kissinger confiding in Burns that Nixon's anti-Semitism could hurt his (Kissinger's) chances of becoming secretary of state. VERDICT This diary will be of interest mostly to specialists because complicated economic policies are not always explained here in layman's terms, but undaunted readers will find fascinating insights into the Nixon presidency as it self-destructed. For an excellent investigation of the issues Burns mentions, see Allen J. Matusow's Nixon's Economy: Booms, Busts, Dollars, and Votes.—Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700617302
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 10/28/2010
  • Pages: 156
  • Sales rank: 1,443,766
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert H. Ferrell is author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge; Woodrow Wilson and World War I; and America's Deadliest Battle: Meuse-Argonne, 1918. He is emeritus professor of history at Indiana University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Acknowledgments

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

Index

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