Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Jules Witcover: Very Strange Bedfellows: The Short and Unhappy Marriage of Richard Nixon & Spiro Agnew (PublicAffairs) Spiro Agnew, a nasty man with an ugly name, turned everything he touched into a thing in no way resembling gold. Even a tool of the poets such as alliteration, became a dull edged weapon in his hands, much as Agnew himself served in the hands of Richard Nixon. We laughed at Agnew because we were too frightened and too angry to cry. Half a century later, the study of the Nixon/Agnew administration continues to give us much to brood over in the form of book upon book. Jules Witcover himself is something of a one-man production line, having already written several books on the subject. Yet, as our government continues to disappoint, as corruption continues to find new avenues toward the same awful ends, it is hard to argue that we do not need to learn from the atrocious failure that was the Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew administration. Very Strange Bedfellows is an old story with new details, built upon ever increasing new sources of information. Bob Woodward called Nixon’s White House tapes “the gift that keeps on giving.” That description could just as well be used to describe the whole sordid Nixon administration. Witcover’s new book perhaps relies too heavily upon his previous books, but there are new details worth finding. It would be a huge stretch to say this new Watergate related book is needed, but those like myself who can never quite get enough of this topic will certainly want to read it. Those who are new to the study of Agnew and his accomplices could hardly find a better or more entertaining place to begin.


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