An eye-opening look at the man whose notoriety over Watergate and whose accomplishments in foreign policy have made us foget that he was one of our most innovative modern presidents on matters of domestic policy. Hoff shows that Nixon's reforms in welfare, civil rights, economic and environmental policy, and reorganization of the federal bureaucracy all greatly outweigh those things for which we tend to remember him.
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(203mm x 135mm x 31mm)
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
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US Kirkus Review »
The timing certainly couldn't be better for these revisionist musings, which are intended to turn conventional wisdom about Nixon's achievements as president on its head. They don't. Hoff (History/Univ. of Indiana) argues that Nixon's domestic reforms were more notable, and his foreign policy achievements less so, than is widely thought. Nixon, the author asserts, was not so much an ideological conservative as a practitioner of "aprincipled pragmatism"; he was served by similarly nonideological advisers, like Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Henry Kissinger, whom she terms "feudal bastards" (borrowing language used by medieval historians to describe the politically fickle lords and barons of 15th-century England). She contends that Nixon's reform-minded restructuring of the executive branch had long-lasting consequences and that he pursued liberal, activist domestic policies on welfare reform, civil rights, the economy, and the environment. Unfortunately for her book's thesis, however, she does not demonstrate that these policies were wise or well-conceived, even when Nixon was successful in implementing his ideas; indeed, Hoff seems to concede the truth of the conventional view that Nixon's imposition of wage and price controls and abandonment of the Bretton Woods system for regulating international currencies were disastrous. Moreover, she ultimately does not seem to quarrel with the consensus that Nixon demonstrated expertise and vision in foreign policy, particularly in his rapprochement with China - rather, she appears to argue that Nixon's diplomatic achievements were mixed, and that the demise of communism has rendered moot his foreign policy accomplishments. Hoff also revisits the Watergate scandal at considerable length without adding much of anything new. This purportedly groundbreaking analysis of Nixon's complex legacy only reiterates what earlier studies have already established: that Nixon was an activist president who had some enduring influence on American government and policy. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Joan Hoff
Joan Hoff, professor of history at Indiana University and co-editor of the Journal of Women's History, is a specialist in twentieth-century American foreign policy and politics and in the legal status of American women. She was executive secretary of the Organization of American Historians from 1981 to 1989. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, includig the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians' Article Prize and the Stuart L. Bernath Prize for the best book on American diplomacy. She is the author of several books including Law, Gender, and Injustice: A Legal History of U.S. Women and Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive.