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

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

Will Swift. Threshold Editions, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4516-7694-5

Long derided as "Plastic Pat," Patricia Nixon, along with her relationship to her infamous husband, Richard, is given a new examination in this anecdote-filled account of the Nixons and their long, controversial political career. Swift (The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm) thoroughly discusses both Nixons' humble beginnings in Southern California as well as Richard's awkward romantic pursuit of Patricia. He provides one of the best, if starkest, descriptions of Richard in love and politics: "He would win, not from being loved, but from being inevitable." Throughout their time in politics, the couple revealed themselves to be remarkably capable, from Richard's appearance in the first televised Congressional Hearings, when he grilled Alger Hiss, to Patricia being voted the most admired woman in the world in 1972. But their fury at mischaracterization by the media would drive them both into bitterness, pushing Richard further into the kind of secrecy and paranoia that led to Watergate, while keeping Patricia in the dark about his actions. Swift tends to meander, strangely noting, "When people become more assertive, they often start by building up resentments and then exploding." But Overall, Swift has formed an absorbing depiction of Richard and Patricia Nixon, one that does not excuse their failings, but gives us a broader sense of their lives. (Jan.)