Pride and Prudence

A spate of books provides a welcome opportunity to reassess Nixon.

Issue: Mar-Apr 2008

Conrad Black, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full (New York: PublicAffairs, 2007), 1,152 pp., $40.00.

Elizabeth Drew, Richard M. Nixon (New York: Times Books, 2007), 192 pp., $22.00.

Timothy Naftali, George H. W. Bush (New York: Times Books, 2007), 224 pp., $22.00.

James Reston, Jr., The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews (New York: Harmony Books, 2007), 208 pp., $22.00.

James Rosen, The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate (New York: Doubleday, 2008), 640 pp., $35.00.

Jeremi Suri, Henry Kissinger and the American Century (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 368 pp., $27.95.


ALEXANDER HAMILTON, one of the fathers of American realism, observed in 1787 that the United States should seek "to incline the balance of European competitions in this part of the world as our interests may dictate." Hamilton concluded, "Our situation invites and our interests prompt us to aim at an ascendant in the system of American affairs." His admonition did not go unheeded. In the nineteenth century, as Fareed Zakaria, David Calleo, Walter A. McDougall and a host of other historians have observed, the United States, in its conduct of foreign affairs, adhered to realist principles to expand its influence and power.

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