Judging by the tone and the content, if not the length, of his epic, sprawling, and (on several levels) fascinating new biography of Richard Nixon, Conrad Black is not inclined to attempt much analysis of what, ultimately, made Tricky Dick tick.[1] There have, he snorts, “been many amateur psychoanalyses of Nixon, [but] none of any apparent validity or value.” None? When Black refers to the “psycho-media speculation” contained within press coverage of the various medical disasters that befell the former president in the immediate aftermath of his resignation, he doesn’t mean it as a term of approbation.

Now it is true that Nixon did have to put up with more than his fair share of long-distance psychoanalysis (so much so, in fact, that when David Greenberg wrote Nixon’s Shadow [2003], a valuable study of shifting perceptions of the thirty-seventh...

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