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Three years ago, I released my popular “The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016.” It featured three must-read books for your summer, including a fourth “Honorable Mention.” The same criteria from 2016 will apply to this year’s list. To quote myself:
The books listed here are among some of my favorites. I’m not necessarily reading them at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! These books have shaped my thinking about the many issues I’ve covered over the past two months. I highly encourage you to check them out.
In that spirit, here is the definitive Summer Reading List 2019:
1.) Patrick J. Buchanan, The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority (2014) – I have to be honest—I’ve been reading this book off-and-on for nearly two years, and am about 75% through it. That pace is not because it’s a bad book.
Quite the contrary, The Greatest Comeback is a must-read for any political history junkies. After twin defeats in the 1960 presidential and 1962 California gubernatorial elections, Nixon was a national loser. Buchanan, who worked for and traveled with Nixon during the long decade of the 1960s as a researcher and writer, gives a first-hand account, culled from what must be a filing cabinet’s worth of handwritten notes and newspaper clippings, of Nixon’s historic, unlikely rise to the presidency.
Nixon’s reputation now suffers from the railroading that was the Watergate scandal. Lost in the Left’s never-ending victory lap is how shrewd Nixon’s political instincts were. Nixon’s tireless support for Republican congressional candidates in 1966 led to historic gains in those midterm elections, likely hastening Lyndon Johnson’s political demise and restoring Republicans’ spot as a viable alternative to Democrats. That loyalty paid off for Nixon in spades.
Consider, too, the challenges that faced Nixon going into the 1968 presidential election: he had to defeat liberal Republicans within his own party (Buchanan expends a great deal of ink explaining the odious treachery of George Romney and Nelson Rockefeller), while also fending off potential challengers to his right, namely California Governor Ronald Reagan. An increasingly-unhinged anti-war (and all-too-often pro-Communist) Left reviled the old “Red Hunter,” and their dominance of the press continued to hound Nixon’s every move.
And through it all, Nixon persevered, engineering the titular “greatest comeback.” He would go on to win a forty-nine-State landslide in 1972, losing only deep-blue Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. For that story, check out Buchanan’s sequel, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battle that Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever (2017), which I will probably finishing sometime during Nikki Haley’s second presidential term.
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