Review of “Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man” by Garry Wills

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man” by Garry Wills was published in 1970, about a year after Nixon’s inauguration as president. Wills is a journalist, former professor of history and classics and a prolific author. His book “Lincoln at Gettysburg” won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and his most recent book “What the Qur’an Meant: And Why it Matters” was published in 2017.

Evident by its publication date, “Nixon Agonistes” is not a comprehensive biography. And obvious during its earliest pages is that it is not a biography at all.  But exactly what it is proves difficult to explain.

Its 546 pages are organized into five major sections which eventually yield the author’s overarching thesis: that America is essentially liberal at its core. But Wills argues that classic liberalism is dead and Richard Nixon is the political heir to…

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