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Six Crises (Richard Nixon Library Editions) Paperback – 1 May 1990


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Product details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Richard Nixon Library Ed., 1st Touchstone Ed edition (1 May 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671706195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671706197
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 625,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

The former president recounts six events that shaped his early political career, including the Hiss Case, the Checkers speech, the kitchen debate with Khrushchev, and the 1960 presidential campaign.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 20 April 2008
Format: Paperback
"Six Crises" is Richard Nixon's first book. Although he believed that it would be his last, we are fortunate that he surprised himself and wrote nine more. Originally published in 1962, it covers six leading events in the author's life up to that time. Nixon chose to characterize these events as "crises" because of responses that they called out of those whom they challenged. In the introduction he shares with the reader the lessons which he draws from the role in crisis management of confidence, coolness, courage and experience.

The Six Crises which Nixon highlights in his book are The Hiss Case, The Fund, The Heart Attack, Caracas, Khrushchev and the Campaign of 1960.

The Hiss Case was Nixon's first big step on the national stage, in which his subcommittee of the House Un-American Activities Committee investigated Whittaker Chambers' claim that Alger Hiss had been a Communist. This section of the book reads like a mystery thriller in which Nixon gives his candid assessment of the principals involved and the reputations of each. He makes it clear that Hiss started with a much more impressive persona than his accuser, Chambers. He relates in detail the evidence and the analysis to which the subcommittee subjected it in trying to determine how far to take the investigation and what to make of its findings. The reading of the narration of this crisis leads the reader to appreciate the internal struggle with which each committee member wrestled in doing his duty of protecting the national security.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
One of the best books ever written by a former President... 12 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Published in 1962, "Six Crises" by Richard Nixon is easily one of the best-written and most interesting books done by a US President. This book was a bestseller and even today it is regarded as a worthwhile read, largely because of its' insights into Nixon's mind and character. Fittingly, the book isn't an autobiography or a political memoir; instead it focuses upon what Nixon considered to be the six greatest moments of his political career up to 1961.

The first crisis is the infamous "Hiss Case" in 1948, which elevated Nixon - then an unknown junior Congressman - into national prominence for the first time. The case started when Whittaker Chambers, a Communist turned Anti-Communist magazine editor, accused Alger Hiss, a high-ranking diplomat in the State Department, of being a Communist spy who had passed American military and scientific secrets to the Soviets. The Hiss spy case became a national sensation and shocked the country, and Nixon - a member of a congressional committee investigating Communist activities in the U.S. - became famous by questioning Hiss in dramatic congressional hearings, and in 1950 he used the case as a springboard to the U.S. Senate. The second crisis occurred during Nixon's first Vice-Presidential campaign in 1952, when he was accused by the press of being a crook who took bribes. Eisenhower considered forcing Nixon to resign as his running mate, but Nixon saved his career with the famous "Checkers" speech on national television (Nixon prefers to call it the "Fund" speech). The third crisis happened in 1955 when President Eisenhower had a serious heart attack, and until he recovered Vice-President Nixon had to be the "acting President" for a few weeks - a delicate task, but one Nixon performed quite well. In 1958 Vice-President Nixon and his wife Pat made a "goodwill" tour to South America, but were attacked and nearly killed by pro-Communist mobs in Venezuela - thus the fourth crisis. The fifth crisis came a year later when Nixon went to Moscow, where he engaged in a famous debate with Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev in a mock American "kitchen" that had been set up to show Russians how the ordinary American family lived. Although the debate was heated, most observers felt that Nixon had gotten the better of Krushchev.

The most interesting part of the book for me was the last crisis - the legendary 1960 presidential campaign between Vice-President Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy. Nixon offers a well-written account of his view of the campaign. What really makes this book fascinating is what it reveals about Nixon the man - his emphasis on handling "crises", his obsession with maintaining his self-control during these crises, and the way in which he seems to place "events" above people - when talking about the mobs who attacked his limousine in Venezuela, he barely mentions his wife, who was also in grave danger - instead he focuses upon his own reaction to the attack and analyzes his own reaction to the mobs. In this book Nixon tries to present himself as a calm, cool, and rational man who always makes the best decisions - yet as his Presidency (and especially Watergate) would show, the "real" Nixon was often very different from the unemotional and logical figure presented in this work. Even so, this book is still a worthwhile read - it is very well-written and it examines several of the greatest events of a major politician's career from his personal perspective. Recommended!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding book! 26 Sept. 2006
By Clear Thinker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Has there ever been anyone like Richard Nixon? For sheer resiliency,he stands alone in American history. No one won bigger than Richard Nixon. And no one lost bigger than Richard Nixon. And then won again. And then lost. And won again. He just kept punching and planning and working, to eventually become one of the dominant figures of the 20th Century.

The author of 9 books, 8 of them best-sellers, this is his first,and covers six major crises of his political life to 1962. This is serious history, but so well-written that it reads like an exciting novel. In it, you can see the raw steel of the man emerging through his discipline, beginnig with his first crisis as a 35-year-old freshman congressman,the prosecution of Alger Hiss, the darling of east coast liberals and the state department, as a Soviet spy.. The other crises have been well-described by other reviewers, but all were thrilling examples of courage (backed by preparation) under fire. Highly-experienced Washington veteran David Gergen, who worked closely with four Presidents, in his excellent book "Eyewitness to History" described Richard Nixon as "the toughest man I ever knew". In this book, you can see why.

Interestingly, his overwhelming love of country shines through as well. For example,the 1960 election was unbelievably close.A swing of only 11,000 votes properly distributed, and the election results would have been reversed. And there was verifiable vote fraud by the Democrats, especially in Texas and Illinois. Nixon was repeatedly urged to demand an investigation and recount. He refused. First,it would have greatly delayed the transference of responsiblity to a new administration. But secondly, as he wrote, "Then, too, the bitterness that would be engendered by such a maneuver on my part would,in my opinion, have done incalculable and lasting damage throughout the country." There speaks a Patriot. And a Man!

Also recommnended."Nixon in Winter" by Monica Crowley.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An Excellent Vice-Presidential Memoir 20 April 2008
By James Gallen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Six Crises" is Richard Nixon's first book. Although he believed that it would be his last, we are fortunate that he surprised himself and wrote nine more. Originally published in 1962, it covers six leading events in the author's life up to that time. Nixon chose to characterize these events as "crises" because of responses that they called out of those whom they challenged. In the introduction he shares with the reader the lessons which he draws from the role in crisis management of confidence, coolness, courage and experience.

The Six Crises which Nixon highlights in his book are The Hiss Case, The Fund, The Heart Attack, Caracas, Khrushchev and the Campaign of 1960.

The Hiss Case was Nixon's first big step on the national stage, in which his subcommittee of the House Un-American Activities Committee investigated Whittaker Chambers' claim that Alger Hiss had been a Communist. This section of the book reads like a mystery thriller in which Nixon gives his candid assessment of the principals involved and the reputations of each. He makes it clear that Hiss started with a much more impressive persona than his accuser, Chambers. He relates in detail the evidence and the analysis to which the subcommittee subjected it in trying to determine how far to take the investigation and what to make of its findings. The reading of the narration of this crisis leads the reader to appreciate the internal struggle with which each committee member wrestled in doing his duty of protecting the national security. Nixon concludes, probably rightly that, without the publicity of the Hiss Case he would not have been placed on a national ticket in the 1950s and, therefore, not been nominated for president in 1960, but that without the enemies he made during the case, would have been elected president that year.

The second crisis, The Fund, arose during the 1952 campaign for vice-president. Press reports reported that Nixon had a fund for personal use derived from private donations. The claim was made that wealthy backers had contributed money to enable Nixon to live far beyond his legitimate means. Nixon explains the provisions of the fund, that being that the money was placed in the hands of a trustee, accounted for, and used for what would now be considered non-stop campaigning. He points out how others, including Adlai Stevenson, had similar funds, although few with as stringent controls as Nixon's. The controversy was to take a tremendous toll on Nixon as he struggled to understand the nature of the crisis and devise and execute a plan to respond to it. The response was the famous "Checkers" speech which saved his place on the ticket. In this section of the book, Nixon introduces the reader to the behind the scenes struggle within the campaign and some of the deliberate references in the speech which saved his career. For anyone with an interest in American politics, this chapter alone makes the book a worthwhile read. An amusing feature is to be reminded, in our era of instant communications, of just how limited communications were in 1952.

The third crisis was Eisenhower's heart attack of 1955. In this section, Nixon lumps the heart attack in with Eisenhower's stroke of 1958 and the related question of the decision to keep Nixon on the ticket in 1956. This section is significant because it is the time when the issue of presidential disability was most clearly faced. It is true that the issue arose after Garfield's shooting and after Wilson's stroke, but, in my opinion, the faster pace of world affairs in the 1950s forced Nixon and other administration officials to respond to the situation more directly than in during prior or subsequent occasion. Acting over a period of months, with virtually no legal guidance, Nixon and the cabinet traversed constitutional terra incognita with courage and experience which enabled the government to continue to function.

With the section on Caracas, the book shifts from domestic to foreign issues. The overriding foreign policy issue of the day was Communism. In this section, Nixon relates how he confronted the challenge of communists during his 1958 tour of South America. This is the trip in which he and Pat were harassed by student agitators in Peru and attacked by mobs in Caracas which placed their lives in jeopardy. Nixon shares with the reader his assessment of the political pressures which lead to the incidents related in the book and his responses to them. His comments about the South American figures with whom he dealt display a degree of candor rarely seen in political memoirs. The degree to which the vice-president of the United States was left on his own, the indignities to which he was subjected and the real risk of murder by a mob seems impossible in this era of heightened security.

The fifth section deals with Nixon's 1959 trip to the Soviet Union during which the famous "Kitchen Debate" with Khrushchev took place. In this section Nixon outlines President Eisenhower's hopes for the trip and the strategy which Nixon devised and executed to attempt to realize them. The candor and detail provided make this section an essential part of a thorough understanding of the Cold War sparing of that time.

The last crisis is the 1960 campaign. This section is essentially a memoir in which Nixon gives his reminiscences of the main events and issues of the campaign. Again, the candor with which he relates his own actions and impressions is rare among political memoirs.

This book is, essentially, an excellent vice-presidential memoir. Nixon was a hero of mine when I came of age politically so I enjoyed every page. Even for one taking a more neutral view of Nixon, this book provides a valuable insight into some of the major events in this crucial period of American history.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Nixon - a shaper of our age 22 Jan. 2008
By Hwyl Pwllheli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Six Crises" was written by Richard Nixon after being VP for Dwight Eisenhower and after losing the Presidential election very narrowly to J. F. Kennedy. He thought he had retired from politics and this book was frank about the challenges that he had faced in Washington.

In retrospect, Nixon was a statesman rather than a politician ... the only statesman in America since Theodore Roosevelt and we are waiting for the next. With Henry Kissinger nixon wrought changes in American international policy that, despite Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush, will hold us in good stead in the years to come. He recognized that it was useless being a policeman for the world ... that's not a single nation's role. He also recognized that China would be the emerging giant who would eventually supplant the U.S. as the most pwoerful country in the world and that dialogue being better than dogma, it was important to have China as an ally not an opponent.

This book is a refreshing statement of his opinions after he had formed his international thesis but before he was able to put it into practice. It is very much wortwhile. Indeed, it should be required reading for anyone student of American history.

John Graham
Author of 25 short books including a biography of Richard Nixon. All are available on Amazon.com. Seach for the book 'Versmissen' to find the whole listing.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Gripping 13 Dec. 2006
By Matthew Rozsa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Despite the widespread opprobrium with which he was long (and understandably) held, Richard M. Nixon's contributions to America are far more complicated than many of his virulent detractors would have you believe. One such contribution can be found in "Six Crises", a fascinating exploration into the early career of a man whose political career would help define the course of mid-twentieth century American history. His chapter on "The Hiss Case" reads like the high-stake best detective stories (and his assertions have been verified by the Venona cables more than three decades since the book's publication); "The Fund" serves as an interesting look at how Richard Nixon the man handled what was (until Watergate) the greatest political crisis in his career; "The Heart Attack" explores how Vice President Nixon coped with temporarily holding the reins of national power while his Commander-in-Chief's suffered several brief incapacitations due to health problems (a heart attack, ileitis, a stroke); "Caracas", in what is by far the best chapter in the book, details how Vice President Nixon calmly handled a life-or-death situation when angry Communist mobs threw rocks at him, spat upon him, physically assaulted him, attacked his car, and nearly overturned his limousine in an effort to light it on fire; "Khruschev", in which Richard Nixon made a famous voyage to the Soviet Union and engaged in compelling dialogues with Premier Khruschev about the differences of life in the USSR and the USA; and finally "The Campaign of 1960", which - due to its baldly partisan approach to Nixon's first presidential campaign - transforms what was once a fascinating and relatively nonpartisan glimpse into this stage of Nixon's life into a bitter polemic about Nixon's defeat at the hands of Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960. Five out of six isn't bad, though.
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