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The Nixon Tapes: 1973

Brinkley, Douglas & . Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2015. 880p. index. ISBN 9780544610538. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780544633339. REF
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In 2013 the National Archives released the last of the unrestricted material from the famous tape recordings that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon in 1974. That led to the 2014 publication of The Nixon Tapes: 1971–1972, selective transcriptions by renowned historian Brinkley (history, Rice Univ.) and Nixon tapes expert Nichter (nixontapes.org; history, Texas A&M Univ., Central Texas). Now the coauthors have released a second volume of transcripts, covering 1973, which ends with the last recorded session prior to the taping system's demise, a brief conversation between the president and his personal secretary Rose Mary Woods on July 12. The first volume focused predominantly on foreign policy, and this book, too, gives considerable space to Nixon and Henry Kissinger's conversations about Vietnam and China, but the weight of the text shifts to Watergate, as President Nixon discusses containment of the spreading scandal with top aides including John Dean, John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman, and others. As in the prior volume, there is a time line, a directory of names, and light annotation provided.
VERDICT General readers might prefer earlier transcription efforts, such as Watergate principal John Dean's 2014 The Nixon Defense, since the excerpts in that book are shorter and more context is given. Even so, these longer excerpts resemble an oddly fascinating reality show, and historians will like that Brinkley and Nichter worked with the most complete body of recordings and used audio equipment of the highest quality to ensure transcription accuracy.

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