Nixon In The Den Review: Watergreat

June 7, 2010 by  
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NIXON IN THE DEN: Tuesday 8th June, BBC4, 9pm ALERT ME

Apart from the simple cow-rustling Texan who preceded Barack Obama, there are few US Presidents who can claim lay claim to legacies as infamous as that of Richard Nixon. His name is synonomous with the biggest political scandal in modern history and for many he will be remembered as a paranoid shut-in who spent more time editing his fabled enemies list than running the country.

In truth ‘Tricky Dicky’ was one of the most successful US Presidents of the post-war era. He won 49 states in his landslide re-election of 1973, became the first political figure to open dialogue with Communist China and thawed the Cold War. But despite this, his public image as an embattled and turgid martyr who swam against the tide in the new media age will endure eternally.

In this magnetic documentary, Professor David Reynolds embarks on a fascinating journey to tell the real story behind one of the most contradicted men in American politics, as unseen footage is mixed with genuinely fresh material that will leave history afficiandos truly salivating. We listen as colleagues recount how they wondered why he entered politics as he seemed to “dislike people so much” and of the time he ordered his security guards block Henry Kissinger’s exit from that plane in Beijing so that he alone enjoyed the limelight.

But anecdotes such as this betray the insecurities that were corroding the President’s sense of rationality. His bitter envy of Henry Kissinger’s jet-setting and headline grabbing foreign policy led to a siege mentality that culminated in one of his teams of ‘plumbers’ breaking into the Watergate Hotel. Gripping Stuff.