I started David Greenberg’s 2003 book, Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image. This book is about the images that people have had of Richard Nixon over the years.
In this post, I’d like to highlight something that Greenberg says on page xiii:
“Then, too, there’s no denying that Nixon was a shadowy figure. Even if you reject those dark, malign images whose creation and evolution are traced in the following chapters—-Nixon as Machiavellian, Nixon as paranoid, Nixon as conspirator—-there’s no getting around the fact that Nixon fascinates people because of his dark side. Just as the shining, heroic face of Franklin Roosevelt dominated an earlier, optimistic era of triumph through depression and war, Nixon’s dour and shadowy profile beclouded the years that followed. For the epoch of the Cold War, the Red Scare, Vietnam, Watergate, and malaise, Nixon—-as opposed to the Kennedy of Camelot or the Reagan of ‘Morning in America’—-seems the most fitting avatar.”
Essentially, Greenberg’s point seems to be that Nixon was a depressing figure, for a depressing time. That contrasts with what Nixon’s image was when he first ran for Congress: fresh, young, handsome, wholesome.