The Greatest Comeback by Patrick J. Buchanan – Book Excerpt

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Excerpt by Crown Publishing Group on

The Greatest ComebackPatrick J. Buchanan, bestselling author and senior advisor to Richard Nixon, tells the definitive story of Nixon’s resurrection from the political graveyard and his rise to the presidency.

After suffering stinging defeats in the 1960 presidential election against John F. Kennedy, and in the 1962 California gubernatorial election, Nixon’s career was declared dead by Washington press and politicians alike. Yet on January 20, 1969, just six years after he had said his political life was over, Nixon would stand taking the oath of office as 37th President of the United States. How did Richard Nixon resurrect a ruined career and reunite a shattered and fractured Republican Party to capture the White House?

In The Greatest Comeback Patrick J. Buchanan–who, beginning in January 1966, served as one of two staff members to Nixon, and would become a senior advisor in the White House after 1968–gives a firsthand account of those crucial years in which Nixon reversed his political fortunes during a decade marked by civil rights protests, social revolution, The Vietnam War, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King, urban riots, campus anarchy, and the rise of the New Left. Using over 1,000 of his own personal memos to Nixon, with Nixon’s scribbled replies back, Buchanan gives readers an insider’s view as Nixon gathers the warring factions of the Republican party–from the conservative base of Barry Goldwater to the liberal wing of Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney, to the New Right legions of an ascendant Ronald Reagan–into the victorious coalition that won him the White House. How Richard Nixon united the party behind him may offer insights into how the Republican Party today can bring together its warring factions.

The Greatest Comeback is an intimate portrayal of the 37th President and a fascinating fly on-the-wall account of one of the most remarkable American political stories of the 20th century.


The Greatest Comeback by Patrick J. Buchanan – Book Excerpt

Copyright © 2014 by Patrick J. Buchanan All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Crown Forum, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.


The Resurrection of Richard Nixon

Barring a miracle his political career ended last week.
—Time on Nixon (November 16, 1962)

Buchanan, was that you throwing the eggs?” were the first words I heard from the 37th President of the United States.

His limousine rolling up Pennsylvania Avenue after his inaugural had been showered with debris. As my future wife, Shelley, and I were entering the reviewing stand for the inaugural parade, the Secret Service directed us to step off the planks onto the muddy White House lawn. The President was right behind us. As he passed by, Richard Nixon looked over, grinned broadly, and made the crack about the eggs.

It was a sign of the times and the hostile city in which he had taken up residence. He had won with 43 percent of the vote. A shift of 112,000 votes from Nixon to Vice President Humphrey in California would have left him with 261 electoral votes, nine short, and thrown the election into a House of Representatives controlled by the Democratic Party. In the final five weeks, Humphrey had closed a 15-point gap and almost put himself into the history books along-side Truman—and Nixon alongside Dewey. But the question that puzzled friend and enemy alike that January morning in 1969 was: How did he get here?

In The Making of the President 1968, Theodore H. White, chronicler of presidential campaigns, begins with a passage from Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: “Marley was dead to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker and the chief mourner. . . . Old Marley was dead as a door-nail.”

That Richard Nixon would be delivering his inaugural address from the East Front of the Capitol on January 20, 1969, would have been mind-boggling a few years before. This is not to say that Nixon was not a man of broad knowledge, high intellectual capacity, or consummate political skill. He had been seen in the 1950s as the likely successor to Dwight Eisenhower. As vice president, he had traveled the world, comported himself with dignity during Ike’s illnesses, survived a mob attack in Caracas, and come off well in his Kitchen Debate with Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev. In 1960, no one had challenged him for the Republican nomination.

Yet Nixon had lost. While the election was among the closest in U.S. history, and there was the aroma of vote fraud in Texas and Chicago, Nixon was seen as a loser….

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