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Richard Nixon: A Psychobiography cover
  • ISBN: 9780231108546
  • ISBN10: 0231108540

Richard Nixon: a Psychobiography

by Volkan, Vamik D. A Itkowitz, Norman

  • List Price: $65.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publish date: 08/01/1997
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Description
Despite an abundance of literature on Richard Nixon, the man behind the most spectacular crash-and-burn career of modern political history remains an enigma. What lay behind his obsessive hunger for power and control, his paranoid offensives against enemies real and perceived, his refusal to accept defeat? Why did a man who had achieved so much feel so angry and unfulfilled even at the height of his power? And what drove the statesman responsible for such triumphs as the opening of relations with China to fall into the most devastating political scandal in American history?

The first detailed psychoanalytic portrait of the 37th president, Richard Nixon: A Psychobiography provides fascinating insight not only into his complex psyche but also into the way it influenced his political decisions, whether shrewd or disastrous. The authors explore Nixon's difficult upbringing -- his mean-spirited, abusive father and emotionally distant mother; the tragic deaths of two of his brothers; his rejection by the first woman he hoped to marry; the embarrasingly long pursuit of his eventual wife, Pat; and other shaping episodes and characters.

This book examines moments in Nixon's presidency that have provoked much speculation but few answers, from his attempt to talk to Vietnam war protesters during a late-night visit to the Lincoln Memorial, to his keeping of the White House tapes. Nixon emerges as a man with extraordinary healing abilities, yet one who suffered from inner conflicts that damaged his personality with profound psychological flaws. His desire to heal is shown as an attempt to reconcile inner conflicts between a grandiose self image and an impoverished private sense of worth. Heprojected his own devalued self image onto others, attempting to control and even to destroy them, finally surrendering to paranoid delusions that caused his downfall.

What emerges is a more nuanced, more humanized Nixon than ever before seen, in a book essential to understanding this enigmatic figure in American history.

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