I started Monica Crowley’s Nixon in Winter. In April, I blogged through Monica’s Nixon Off the Record, which is about Monica’s time working for Richard Nixon in the 1990’s. Nixon in Winter is about that, too, only it has a far greater focus on foreign policy; plus, it gets into Nixon’s reflections on Watergate and other political scandals, philosophy and religion, family, and mortality.
Nixon’s points about foreign policy in my latest reading were not all that new to me, for many of them are the same points that he makes in his book, Seize the Moment, which I read and blogged through. This is not surprising, for Nixon in this part of Nixon in Winter is working on Seize the Moment, as Monica assists him in researching for the book. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to get into foreign policy in my blog posts about Nixon in Winter. What I want to highlight here is the more personal dimension of Monica’s narration.
Monica asks in her introduction why Nixon was so open with her—-how he could trust her after being burned in the past. Her answer is that it was because she was young and did not have an agenda, and also because Nixon knew that he was sharing his thoughts with posterity when he was sharing them with her. As Monica says, Nixon was telling his story one last time!
There is a tender part of the book in which Monica comes to Nixon’s home to work with him on his book Beyond Peace, and they have dinner together. Nixon wanted her to come because he was afraid that he would slip on the ice and seriously harm himself if he went outside. When Monica arrived, he looked out the window to tell her to take hold of the railing so she wouldn’t fall. After talking about the book, they had chili (which Nixon said was the only thing he knew how to make) with grapefruit juice. He also made Monica a non-alcoholic version of a beverage that he liked in Asia. And, when he tried to open a bag of sesame-seed breadsticks, he had difficulty, and a bunch of sesame seeds scattered on the floor!
Nixon said that he was lonely on account of his celebrity. His wife Pat had died, and he mostly stayed in his study, while rarely (if ever) going into the other rooms. While Pat was still alive, he adopted a dog who was wandering around on his property. Monica tells a funny story about how Nixon was talking to her about foreign policy, and the dog bit off and swallowed the tip of her pin, without Nixon even noticing!
In my reading so far, this book looks like it will be like Nixon: Off the Record: a lot of technical discussion, yet also some light-hearted moments. At the same time, my impression thus far is that Nixon’s humanity—-particularly his loneliness—-is more apparent in Nixon in Winter.