Review by Kirkus Book Review
On occasion sounding more like a work of the imagination than fact -- to know about some of these conversations and thoughts of the praetors newsmen Rather and Gates would have to be wired to a power higher than CBS -- this is a character (personality might be a more apt description) study of Nixon's brain (less) Trust, the ones who conspired in disaster number seven (it seems fitting that Haldeman also had a hand in writing Six Crises), the staff men who, in case you've lost track, have been having their day in court: Ehrlichman, sentenced to 20 months to five years, Dean, one to four years, Liddy, two to six years with a concurrent one to three -- with no end yet in sight. It's remarkable that an administration once considered to be bland news should end up as material for such a large number of exciting books (as they used to say in the Kennedy crowd, you can't buy this kind of publicity) -- and The Palace Guard gets the highest marks to date. There's little question of where the inner circle is heading, but what kind of people they are, their backgrounds, how they got where they did is the story Rather and Gates concentrate on. The authors speculate on the might have beens: if Arthur Burns and Pat Moynihan (the scenes between the flamboyant Irishman and Nixon are wonderfully amusing) had succeeded in developing into domestic Kissingers; they discuss the lame-duck Cabinet (Romney who came to HUD with dreams of grandeur, Volpe who sold a reluctant Nixon on the SST, Hickel, who to everybody's surprise came to believe in ecologically sound land-use), and Agnew, groomed as Nixon's Nixon who proved as difficult to manage as his prototype. Nixon himself remains in the background here, as secluded and shadowy as in real life (although Rather is thought to be the President's bete noire, the book is impeccably fair, even sympathetic). One might quibble with the authors' contention that Chappaquidick was the event that brought about a changed White House (fears of a Kennedy comeback had until then kept the administration in line, i.e., legal) -- but there is no doubt that it was the political hard-liners with their dangerously narrow point of view that made Watergate and all that followed inevitable. An Enemies List with substance -- sad, appalling, brisk -- and fun to read. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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