Pat and Dick: The Nixons, an Intimate Portrait of a Marriage

Pat and Dick: The Nixons, an Intimate Portrait of a Marriage

by Will Swift


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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 the relationship between Richard and Pat Nixon. 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 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 through the myriad crises of his political career, the Nixons’ story is filled with hopes and disappointments, both intimate and global.

Written by a leading presidential biographer who “narrates with grace and style” (Kirkus Reviews), this remarkable biography shows us a couple who, despite their trials, managed to find the strength, courage, and resilience to sustain a true connection for more than half a century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451676952
Publisher: Threshold Editions
Publication date: 08/05/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

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 and

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part 1 An Ambitious Young Couple

1 "Will You Think of Me Sometimes?" 9

2 Going Places 24

3 Married, Happily 32

4 Love After Pearl Harbor 45

5 Giant Slayers 58

6 The Faces of America's Future 74

7 Crises on the Home Front 84

8 Safeguarding the American Home 98

Part 2 Cultural Leaders and Private Citizens

9 "Heroes" and "Housewives": Dick, Ike, Pat, and Mamie 115

10 A Turbulent Ascent 138

11 Enduring Defeat 153

12 Darkness 171

13 Your Turn, My Turn 182

Part 3 White House Dreams and Nightmares

14 Adjusting to the White House Fortress 207

15 "We Had Held Our Own" 226

16 A Private Marriage in the Public Spotlight 243

17 Love in the White House 266

18 The Zenith 283

19 Falling Apart 309

Part 4 Affliction and Recovery

20 Renewal in Exile 341

21 A Peaceful Twilight 357

Epilogue 378

Acknowledgments 383

Notes 387

Index 449

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