Jacki: Richard Nixon

Nixon’s Darkest Secrets, by Don Fulsom

This was easily one of the worst non-fiction books I have ever read. Certainly the worst presidential biography I have read during this challenge. I just absolutely hated it. Allow me to count the reasons:

1. Fulsom maybe did zero original research. Almost every citation was from a secondary source, most of them not even solid secondary sources. Just any old thing he could find, apparently. At first it seemed questionable but as the book went on, it was just laughable.

2. The writing itself was choppy and atrocious. There was no sense of cohesiveness or story. Thinking about the book as a whole, I feel like there’s a good chance that he wrote the chapters totally independently of each other and never read it as a whole. I say this because there are phrases, even entire paragraphs that are repeated over and over throughout the book. Again, at first I was like, “Um, I just read that. How odd.” But by the end, I was almost keeping tally of how many times I heard the exact same lines.

3. The bias. You guys. Oh my gosh. It’s so bad. I love reading these biographies because I love getting a good, solid picture of who are presidents were as people… and that didn’t happen here even one tiny bit. According to Fulsom, Nixon was not so much a man as a walking blob of evil. There was no making Nixon into a person, this was just a total hate-fest.

4. The sexuality thing. The drinking thing. The wife-beating thing. The child-hating thing. It never ended. By the end, Fulsom had painted a picture of Nixon as a drunk, gay, homophobe (wut?) who killed JFK, beat his wife, hated his kids and was an actual sociopath. I’m sure that Nixon was into some shady business, but the “evidence” used to prove all of these things? Third hand stories. All of them. Blech. I felt almost dirty reading it. And claiming all of these things just made other parts of the books that probably were true (mob connections, BFFs in the mafia, and so on) just seem untrue.

I could go on. I hated it. Don’t read this. Ever.


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