Shortlisted for the 2015 Plutarch Award for Best Biography, “the most humanizing portrait of the Nixons we’re likely to have” (Douglas Brinkley) is a sweeping depiction of the turbulent fifty-three-year marriage of Richard and Pat Nixon.
When Americans remember the controversial Nixons, they usually focus on the political triumphs, the turbulent White House years, and the humiliating public downfall. But a very different image of the polarizing president emerges in this fascinating portrait of his relationship with Pat. Now, the couple’s recently released love letters and other private documents reveal that as surely as unremitting adversity can fray the fabric of a marriage, devotion can propel it to surmount disgrace and defeat.
In Pat and Dick, biographer Will Swift brings his years of experience as a historian and as a marital therapist to this unique examination of a long-misunderstood marriage. Nixon the man was enormously complicated: brilliant, insecure, sometimes coldly calculating, and capable of surprising affection with his wife.
Much less is known about Pat. With the help of personal writings and interviews with family and friends, Swift unveils a woman who was warm and vivacious, yet much shrewder and more accomplished than she has been given credit for. From Dick’s unrelenting crusade to marry the glamorous teacher he feared was out of his league through the myriad crises of his political career, the Nixons’ story is filled with hopes and disappointments, both intimate and global.
This remarkable biography shows us the couple at their most human: a wife walking a delicate line between self-sacrifice and healthy love while her husband struggles to balance global ambitions and personal intimacy. The Nixons came to represent the best and worst of American life and culture. But though their union was tested by all manner of trials, they managed to find the strength, courage, and resilience to sustain a true connection for more than half a century.
Will Swift has written for more than twenty years on American leaders and British royalty of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is the author of The Roosevelts and the Royals and The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm. A dynamic public speaker, Dr. Swift has been interviewed about political, presidential, and royal history on prominent radio stations across the country. He has been a featured speaker at presidential libraries and on CSPAN. He is also a founding board member of the Biographers International Organization. Dr. Swift has been in private practice as a clinical psychologist and marital therapist in Manhattan for more than thirty years. Visit him on the web at WillSwift.com and Facebook.com/PatAndDickTheNixonsAnIntimatePortraitOfAMarriage.
Pat and Dick: The Nixons, An Intimate Portrait of a Marriage 4.4 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
This is a richly detailed look at two complex people and their remarkable marriage. Swift’s narrative is filled with suprises, particularly in the portrait it presents of Pat. Who would have associated tender romance with the Nixons? Swift's approach to this famous couple is fresh, illuminating, and totally engrossing. I stayed up reading about the Nixons well beyond my usual bedtime.
More than 1 year ago
Having read all of Dr. Swift's books, I'd like to suggest that Pat and Dick, The Nixon's, an Intimate Portrait of a Marriage, is the most superb composition out of his three books. Written in fluid descriptive language and researched carefully, it dispels many notions put forth by the media concerning the Nixon marriage. We know the public information about the Nixon's presidency but Swift reveals insights into their private lives over fifty years.
I have come away with an entirely new respect for Thelma (Pat) Ryan Nixon. She was an incredible first lady who contributed such love for women's rights all over the world. Her absolute devotion to her country is inspiring. She is an example for all of us by demonstrating that we can accomplish anything through diligence and a strong work ethic. Dr. Swift makes her come alive and elucidates the many ways she honored her marriage vows.
- Anne Schomaker