The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972

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The famous — and infamous — Nixon White House tapes that reveal President Richard Nixon uncensored, unfiltered, and in his own words

President Nixon’s voice-activated taping system captured every word spoken in the Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and other key locations in the White House, and at Camp David — 3,700 hours of recordings between 1971 and 1973. Yet less than 5 percent of those conversations have ever been transcribed and published. Now, thanks to professor Luke Nichter’s...

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The Nixon Tapes (with Audio Clips): 1971

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The famous — and infamous — Nixon White House tapes that reveal President Richard Nixon uncensored, unfiltered, and in his own words

President Nixon’s voice-activated taping system captured every word spoken in the Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and other key locations in the White House, and at Camp David — 3,700 hours of recordings between 1971 and 1973. Yet less than 5 percent of those conversations have ever been transcribed and published. Now, thanks to professor Luke Nichter’s massive effort to digitize and transcribe the tapes, the world can finally read an unprecedented account of one of the most important and controversial presidencies in U.S. history.

The Nixon Tapes, with annotations and commentary by Nichter and Professor Douglas Brinkley, offers a selection of fascinating scenes from the year Nixon opened relations with China, negotiated the SALT I arms agreement with the Soviet Union, and won a landslide reelection victory. All the while, the growing shadow of Watergate and Nixon’s political downfall crept ever closer. The Nixon Tapes provides a unique glimpse into a flawed president’s hubris, paranoia, and political genius.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

During his presidency, Richard Nixon recorded more than 3,700 hours of his White House and Camp David conversations and now thanks to his conspicuous self-destruction, he will probably forever remain the most documented chief executive of all-time. Until now, less than five percent of these revealing talks have been transcribed and published. That changes with this comprehensive 784-page collection of transcripts, expertly edited by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley and master transcriber Luke Nichter. The Nixon Tapes, 1971-1972 also arrives with digitized audio recordings. A candid self-portrait of a controversial, colorful president; sometimes outrageous, sometimes hilarious, always revealing.

The New York Times Book Review - David M. Kennedy
Rightly noting that foreign policy "was what Nixon wanted to be remembered for," the editors artfully cull from the more than 3,500 hours of tapes a fairly coherent documentary record of conversations concerned primarily with international relations…More often than not Nixon's interlocutor is Henry Kissinger…Indeed, the book might well have been titled "The Nixon-Kissinger Tapes." Though many others…have written about this pivotal episode, the exchanges published here give a more vivid sense than most accounts of the climate of urgency, risk and anticipation that enveloped Nixon's and Kissinger's effort. To witness these two titans of ambition, vainglory and suspicion hammering out their grand diplomatic design while warily taking each other's measure and sharing their often scabrous views of other personalities is to receive gritty instruction in statecraft and psychology alike.
Publishers Weekly
When he was departing office, President Lyndon Johnson suggested to the incoming Ppresident Richard Nixon that he consider secretly taping conversations within the White House, a presidential practice since F.D.R. Nixon initially declined, but. Then, in February 1971, he changed his mind, installing. He had recording devices installed throughout the White House, which activated when someone began speaking. This volume from acclaimed historian Brinkley (Cronkite) and Nixon tape-specialist Nichter is a collection of selections from of those recordings, from 1971 to February 1973., is The recordings are not restricted limited to Watergate and scandal, but and presents a broader portrait of Nixon as strategist, diplomat, and president, at the height of his powers. The selections feel like a mishmash of C-SPAN, excerpts from plays, and conversations overheard in public, with Brinkley and Nichter's's TV Guide-"like episode" summaries laying out the scenes as such:: "Nixon and Kissinger continued to read the political tea leaves as they considered their approaches to talks with the Soviet Union." (52). From masterful dealings with the Chinese, to the Nixon's remarkably petty insults of, like Nixon referring to Indira Gandhi as a bitch (308) andor Kissinger's noting remarks about how American intellectuals "They don't mind loosenlosing. They don't like America," (54). there isSpecial guests provide both insight and eyebrow-raising commentary., such as theOther noteworthy figures appear, like Rev.erend Billy Graham on the phone with Nixon, referring tocalling Nixon about Vietnam and noting "I'm putting all the blame of this whole thing on Kennedy." (55). This Brinkley and Nichter book isoffer an intimate, fascinating, strange, and essential primary source of the inner workings of the Nixon Presidency. (July 29)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-07-29
An eye-opening reckoning of crimes, misdemeanors and bugging technology 40 years after Richard Nixon's ignominious departure from the White House.Brinkley (History/Rice Univ.; Cronkite, 2012, etc.) teams up with Nichter (Texas A&M Univ., Central Texas; Richard M. Nixon: In the Arena, from Valley to Mountaintop, 2014, etc.) to look for the smoking gun in the vast mass of tapes—3,700 hours—Nixon secretly made during his time as president. As they note, the tapes "gave Nixon an accurate record of his meetings and phone calls without the need for someone to sit in and take notes." Of course, they also gave Nixon something to pore over as well, and they are so abundant that the authors reckon the whole corpus will probably never be completely transcribed. What we have here is damning enough, though not much that the tapes reveal comes as a real surprise: Henry Kissinger reckoned that owing to the weakness of our supposed allies in Indochina ("the South Vietnamese aren't going anywhere where they're going to suffer casualties right now"), it was justified to invade theoretically neutral Laos. U.S. ambassador Ellsworth Bunker believed that things were fine in Vietnam "except for this damn drug business." Nixon, reckoning that by sitting down to negotiate with the Soviet foe he would court a disastrous attack from the right wing of his own Republican Party, fell back on football metaphors: "this is just scoring a damn touchdown, but it's one that's going to—maybe, we'll be able to hold and still win the game in the public opinion field." The takeaway? Granted that it's nothing new—see Robert Altman's film Secret Honor—but Nixon's constant cynicism is the real hallmark of this anthology of transcriptions, most having to do with foreign policy in a fraught and tumultuous era. His conclusion? Said Nixon in May 1972, on the road to a landmark re-election victory: "The American people are suckers." Essential for students of the era and fascinating for those who lived it.
Library Journal
Surprisingly, the last of the nearly 4,000 hours' worth of tapes made by President Nixon was released only last August, and very little of this material has been transcribed and published. CBS News historian Brinkley (e.g., The Wilderness Warrior) and Nichter, an associate professor at Texas A&M University and former founding executive producer of C-SPAN's American History TV, have selected, edited, and annotated key passages from the tapes with topics ranging from negotiating with North Vietnam to managing the reelection campaign. The book will be released, along with accompanying digitized audio recordings, on the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation. Obviously important; with a 50,000-copy first printing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544274150
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 7/29/2014
  • Pages: 784
  • Sales rank: 60,649
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 2.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Brinkley is Professor of History at Rice University, CBS News Historian, and contributing editor of Vanity Fair. He is the author of seven New York Times Notable Books of the Year. His recent New York Times bestsellers include Cronkite, The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, and The Reagan Diaries.

Luke Nichter is an Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University – Central Texas. He is a noted expert on the Nixon tapes as a result of his efforts to digitize the nearly 4,000 hours of recordings he makes available online as a public service, and he is the author of an ongoing petition before the District Court for the District of Columbia to open Watergate-related government records still sealed in the National Archives. Nichter's work has been reported on by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2014


    Haven't read the book yet but I know it's going to be great.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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