Printers Row Review: ‘The Greatest Comeback’ by Patrick J. Buchanan

Printers Row Review: ‘The Greatest Comeback’ by Patrick J. Buchanan

By Scott Porch – Chicago Tribune

Buchanan deals the story with a great deal of humility — without a single self-serving anecdote or discursion in the book — which makes “The Greatest Comeback” much more a balanced history than a me-me-me memoir….

In 1965, a young Patrick Buchanan corralled a washed-up Richard Nixon at a Republican gathering just outside St. Louis to say he wanted to work on what he felt certain would be Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign.

Buchanan was a conservative editorial writer for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and Nixon was a former vice president who had lost elections for president in 1960 and governor of California in 1962. A few weeks later, Nixon summoned Buchanan to his New York law office, where they talked for hours.

The Greatest Comeback is Buchanan’s memoir of his early years with Nixon — 1966 through 1968 — and an evenhanded insider take on Nixon’s storied political rebirth.

The Greatest ComebackBuchanan immediately joined Nixon’s staff — answering correspondence, writing op-ed columns — and would quickly become a confidant, adviser on political and policy matters and Nixon’s emissary to conservatives. Buchanan would remain by Nixon’s side through the president’s election in 1968, re-election in ’72, the Watergate scandal and his resignation in ’74.

The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority” is Buchanan’s memoir of his early years with Nixon — 1966 through 1968 — and an evenhanded insider take on Nixon’s storied political rebirth.

Buchanan kept mounds of memorandums, correspondence and position papers that lend the story a present-tense tone. By March 1966, when Esquire ran a survey of GOP leaders who overwhelmingly named Nixon their favorite in ’68, Buchanan was a Nixon insider…

The depiction of Nixon’s re-entry into politics in 1966 is the least familiar and most compelling part of Buchanan’s story. When Buchanan joins Nixon early that year, Team Nixon is essentially just the two of them tucked away in a small suite at Nixon’s New York law firm….

There are interesting anecdotes from the Republican primary campaign, including Buchanan meeting his wife, Shelley, a former Nixon aide who returned to work on the ’68 campaign; and Buchanan bringing in a young, libertarian economist named Alan Greenspan to advise the campaign on fiscal issues. Buchanan deals the story with a great deal of humility — without a single self-serving anecdote or discursion in the book — which makes “The Greatest Comeback” much more a balanced history than a me-me-me memoir….

Attorney Scott Porch is a contributor to Kirkus Reviews and The Daily Beast. He is writing a book about social upheaval in the 1960s and ’70s.