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When H.R. Haldeman died, he left behind a chronicle of the four years he was Chief of Staff for President Nixon. His diaries offer a fascinating portrait of the major events of this era, including the Cambodia bombings, the Kent State killings, the fall of Spiro Agnew, the Watergate scandal and new insights on Richard Nixon. 8-page photo insert.


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When H.R. Haldeman died, he left behind a chronicle of the four years he was Chief of Staff for President Nixon. His diaries offer a fascinating portrait of the major events of this era, including the Cambodia bombings, the Kent State killings, the fall of Spiro Agnew, the Watergate scandal and new insights on Richard Nixon. 8-page photo insert.

30 review for The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House

  1. 4 out of 5

    TrumanCoyote

    The only real drawback--and it is unfortunately a LARGE one--is that the book contains a very sketchy list of players at the start. I mean, I've read a fair amount about this stuff, and I was getting frequently lost. Your only hope was to look up the name in the index, turn to the first appearance and hope that the individual's identity was provided in italics; this proved to be rather a forlorn hope much of the time. The oral history of Nixon's White House was much better in this regard. Also j The only real drawback--and it is unfortunately a LARGE one--is that the book contains a very sketchy list of players at the start. I mean, I've read a fair amount about this stuff, and I was getting frequently lost. Your only hope was to look up the name in the index, turn to the first appearance and hope that the individual's identity was provided in italics; this proved to be rather a forlorn hope much of the time. The oral history of Nixon's White House was much better in this regard. Also just who was saying what in conversations often became a difficult call, given the host of indefinite "he"'s in the text; this problem was exacerbated by the fact that there were three important Johns (Mitchell, Ehrlichman and Dean). Having said that though, this "amazingly frank" account (as stated in the Reeves book, although as I recall the bibliographic essay was not written by him) makes for one heckuva read. We see Nixon's constantly resentful nature, ever concerned with screwing this and that, as well as his inability to brook confrontation (thus eternally sending off his subordinates to get the word out and pass messages to others from him). We are also inundated with the Tricky One's obsession with PR and his image, with getting the positive word out, punctuated occasionally by a despairful collapse of all such attempts as he decides that no one will ever like him anyway. Oh yes, and we also see that Kissinger was often one giant flaming nutball. H R Bob himself comes across as being surprisingly more than a bit on the droll side (as when he says that Nixon emphasized three main points in his upcoming speech--and then named four). Indeed, one of the most startling things in all of this was several pictures of Haldeman grinning, even laughing. Ehrlichman was frequently waggish too, and even Mitchell was apparently possessed of quite a dry wit, yet at the time they all seemed to be about as human as Mt Rushmore. Speaking of PR and image...if only the public had seen this side of the administration more (or at all), they might have proven more forgiving of Nixon and his cronies. And of course, it isn't simply the story of RN's presidency but of any presidency in its daily grind, as well as the bumping from unforseen crisis to crisis and the attempt to apply damage control where needed. You want to know what it would be like to be president for a day? Here goes: "Busy day of appointments, Caldera farewell (which P wants to be the last farewell meeting on State visits); Presidential scholars (a high-school-grad group who announced their opposition to P's policy before the White House meeting); a signing of Crime Executive Order; greeting group of Iowa businessmen; a boys choir from Pennsylvania; the Prime Minister of Morocco; F Murphy. In between a couple of vital staff sessions about saving the Penn Central Railroad, and a meeting with Cap Weinberger about his taking on top budget job." Then there's this whole business of politics: "Connally called to say that Marvin Watson had told him that Ed McCormick in Boston had told him that [Boston mayor] Kevin White had called to say that McGovern had called him last night and said it would be Larry O'Brien for VP." And a further bit of tongue-in-cheekiness from H R: "Colson originally, though, told E he had a tape recording of this interview, but when I called him to say I'd like to hear the tape, he said he didn't have a tape, he had a transcript, so I said he should bring the transcript over and we'd review it, and he said, well, he didn't actually have the transcript, but someone else did, so I asked him if he'd get it, and he backed off on that and said he'd try but wasn't sure he could. Which sort of shoots some holes into his story." "It would be goddamn easy to run this office if you didn't have to deal with people." --Richard Nixon (in 1971)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    This book taught me more about politics than any other. Haldeman was Nixon's Chief of Staff. In his thorough and painfully honest diaries, he set down an insider's account of the White House. The cynicism behind the rherotic, the realpolitik behind the politics, the infighting within the administration, the personalities behind the personae: it's all here in living color. It's odd how jarring and revelatory a small dose of candor can be in the world politics. These diaries were clearly never meant This book taught me more about politics than any other. Haldeman was Nixon's Chief of Staff. In his thorough and painfully honest diaries, he set down an insider's account of the White House. The cynicism behind the rherotic, the realpolitik behind the politics, the infighting within the administration, the personalities behind the personae: it's all here in living color. It's odd how jarring and revelatory a small dose of candor can be in the world politics. These diaries were clearly never meant to be published; the real question is: how did they come to be published?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rashan

    I was attracted to it by two things; my deep interest in all things and in the politics in particular of the 1960s and 70s; and by my interest in the role of Chief of Staff within a presidential administration. Haldeman was arguably the first modern White House Chief of Staff and his tenure set the standard for the level of seriousness and professionalism that come with the job. He did what he could to manage the mercurial and self sabotaging nature of one of America's oddest presidents and doin I was attracted to it by two things; my deep interest in all things and in the politics in particular of the 1960s and 70s; and by my interest in the role of Chief of Staff within a presidential administration. Haldeman was arguably the first modern White House Chief of Staff and his tenure set the standard for the level of seriousness and professionalism that come with the job. He did what he could to manage the mercurial and self sabotaging nature of one of America's oddest presidents and doing some of the hard parts of the job that Nixon couldn't handle - including being "the president's son-of-a-bitch" as he infamously described himself. The Haldeman Diaries is a book unlike any I've read before. The format alone was particularly intriguing. "Bob," as he was called by some, kept extremely detailed daily journals throughout his time serving Richard Nixon in the White House - recording his thoughts on the news of the day, his interactions with the president, his dealings with other members of the senior staff and the cabinet, or occasionally injecting a brief description of a particularly funny instance or a beautiful landscape. A man of a direct nature, Haldeman uses a clipped, no nonsense style of prose in many of his journal entries, getting across the essential points of his thoughts and interactions at the very end of grueling 12, 14, and 18 hour days.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris Schaffer

    It was a struggle - cause the last about 150-175 pages are all Watergate and for a diary, Haldeman really gets into the details. The first 500 breezes by, interesting insights of the RN presidency. John Connally’s name comes up a lot, that blowhard. I’m glad to be done.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    You can see that Haldeman was a good soldier for Nixon.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Murphy

    While this is not my kind of normal book to read, I went ahead and read it anyway. So, little have I read on the Nixon years that I found something to read. While I found it informative on the Pentagon Papers, Watergate cover-up and the Vietnam exit. Much of it was it was, in one manner of speaking, on proverbial cat fights. If you are interested on the inner workings of a presidency gone awry, this may be a book for you. I am glad I read it, but not much of a diary reader, myself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    Straight from someone at the power centre of Nixon's White House, Haldeman writes of the tumultuous times from the inauguration until his resignation in 1973. He shows the positive and negative of Nixon's administration, all ending under a cloud. As a Nixon fan I can see how he inspired loyalty, but the troubles of Watergate sent many of the president's men scurrying. A third-rate burglary it was, Nixon was an amateur next to the skullduggery of his predecessors, but it's the liberal media that Straight from someone at the power centre of Nixon's White House, Haldeman writes of the tumultuous times from the inauguration until his resignation in 1973. He shows the positive and negative of Nixon's administration, all ending under a cloud. As a Nixon fan I can see how he inspired loyalty, but the troubles of Watergate sent many of the president's men scurrying. A third-rate burglary it was, Nixon was an amateur next to the skullduggery of his predecessors, but it's the liberal media that writes the history now. Sadly his role as a great statesman gets obscured by those still fighting the culture wars. Worthwhile read, very good.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    So far I am just into this book and it is fascinating. I will update this review when I'm done with it. Update: This is very readable. Like someone talking - which for the most part it actually is, because Haldeman recorded his diary on tape (!). You find out what a complex man Richard Nixon was. He was a workaholic and would have made a good president had he not had that fatal streak of paranoia. As it was, the last part of the book is all Watergate all the time. They sat up there in the White H So far I am just into this book and it is fascinating. I will update this review when I'm done with it. Update: This is very readable. Like someone talking - which for the most part it actually is, because Haldeman recorded his diary on tape (!). You find out what a complex man Richard Nixon was. He was a workaholic and would have made a good president had he not had that fatal streak of paranoia. As it was, the last part of the book is all Watergate all the time. They sat up there in the White House and conspired their heads off. This book gives the view of someone who was there and thought everything they did was justified and morally right.

  9. 4 out of 5

    James

    With the 2012 election fast approaching, I have been reading material that gives behind the scenes insight into politics at the Executive level. This book written by the Chief of Staff for the Nixon administration seemed like it would be an enjoyable read, but it wasn't. As stated in the title, it is the "diaries" of the author. At many times it contains fragmented thoughts and introspections that lack details. I got through 226 pages before I decided that this book's best purpose is for the sak With the 2012 election fast approaching, I have been reading material that gives behind the scenes insight into politics at the Executive level. This book written by the Chief of Staff for the Nixon administration seemed like it would be an enjoyable read, but it wasn't. As stated in the title, it is the "diaries" of the author. At many times it contains fragmented thoughts and introspections that lack details. I got through 226 pages before I decided that this book's best purpose is for the sake of research.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Who can read this stuff? Daily diaries of "The Brush" an obsessive control freak in the Nixon White House. Hard-core holier than thou righty. You can use these diary entries to deconstruct the Nixon intrique, if you trust that he didn't doctor them before publication. I don't. He kept his mouth shut until the grave. Who can read this stuff? Daily diaries of "The Brush" an obsessive control freak in the Nixon White House. Hard-core holier than thou righty. You can use these diary entries to deconstruct the Nixon intrique, if you trust that he didn't doctor them before publication. I don't. He kept his mouth shut until the grave.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ira friedman

    Inisder's account on Nixon's time in office from his Chief of Staff. Haldeman kept a diary for every day he served the President, including the days history will remember the most. Nothing about Watergate was edited out apparently. Inisder's account on Nixon's time in office from his Chief of Staff. Haldeman kept a diary for every day he served the President, including the days history will remember the most. Nothing about Watergate was edited out apparently.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim Golden

    Interesting Diary of Hadelman's entire time as RMN's Chief of Staff! Interesting Diary of Hadelman's entire time as RMN's Chief of Staff!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vikki

    Too much detail to read. Didn't finish. Too much detail to read. Didn't finish.

  14. 5 out of 5

    John

    You almost feel sorry for Halderman. It appears Nixon used H's hardass persona for his own good. You almost feel sorry for Halderman. It appears Nixon used H's hardass persona for his own good.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Seemed pretty boring to me, unless you're really interested in this era and topic. Seemed pretty boring to me, unless you're really interested in this era and topic.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rob Werner

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tim Burke-gaffney

  18. 4 out of 5

    Travis

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jim Wasserman

  20. 4 out of 5

    Neal

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael D.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mike Fracasso

  23. 5 out of 5

    Corey J. Davidson

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  25. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sparks

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Saunders

  27. 5 out of 5

    David A. Devine

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vikki Weeden

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary Jo

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Black

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