Sunday, April 19, 2009

Frost/Nixon: Behind the Scenes of the Nixon Interviews by David Frost

Before I delve into my thoughts on this book, I'd like to apologize for the long delay since my last post. This was going to be my year of blogging weekly. Ah well. My wife and I had our first child the second week in February and, needless to say, things have been a bit busy. Hopefully, I can get back on track with more regular blogging. Thanks.

Richard Nixon's resignation has always been an oddly fascinating moment for me. I was almost ten years old when he resigned and for some reason, the event left it's mark. Back in the late 90s, when the Bill Clinton impeachment comedy was playing out in Congress, there were a lot of people saying that what Clinton had done, essentially lying about cheating on his wife, was "worse than Nixon." Curious to see if they were correct, I found myself reading everything that I could get my hands on about the Watergate scandal. After watching the recent movie, "Frost/Nixon," David Frost's account of these historic interviews became yet another addition to my ever growing "Nixon Library."

While the movie was a fascinating story based on the real events, the book itself is less than fascinating. I did find parts of it interesting and worth reading but, much of it was tedious. The problem isn't with the story, Nixon was a tremendously flawed and endlessly fascinating individual, but with Frost's writing which is perfunctory at best.

The last third of the book is devoted to long excerpts from the actual interview transcripts. Again, parts of this are fascinating and I'm sure it would be riveting to actually watch or hear the interviews however, much of the dialogue is stilted and just doesn't transfer well to the printed page.

Because I have a strong interest in the Nixon administration, I am unwilling to entirely write this book off but I will say that those with only a casual interest in the Nixon administration should probably skip this one. This is a rare case where I really think the movie is better than the book.

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