Ohio History Journal

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews




Public Papers of the Presidents of the

United States: Richard Nixon, 1969.

(Washington, D.C.: Office of the Federal

Registrar, National Archives and Records

Service, General Services Administration,

1971. lii + 1081p.; appendices and index.



Most students of the history of the United

States, particularly those working in the

recent period, have long since found this

continuing series to be a valuable research

tool, one to which they can turn with con-

fidence for a standard and reliable compila-

tion of all of the President's major ad-

dresses, messages, press conferences, and

public letters. Launched in 1957 in response

to recommendations made by the National

Historical Publications Commission, the

series now covers in full the years from

1945 through 1969. In the future, as I

understand present plans, it will be extend-

ed not only forward in continuing annual

compilations but also backward to encom-

pass the Hoover and Roosevelt adminis-


The volume under review, covering the

first 346 days of the Nixon administration,

is somewhat more selective than its imme-

diate predecessors. It contains only 1,049

pages of documents as compared with

1,228 pages in the volumes covering 1967

and 1,404 in those for 1968. The editorship

has also changed, Warren Reid having

been succeeded by Dorothy G. Chance and

Peter J. Haley. But, so far as I can deter-

mine, the high quality of editorial work and

scholarly standards of selection have not

changed. The editorial comments and notes,

in fact, seem a bit fuller, more numerous,

and more helpful than in the past; and

judging from the list in Appendix A, the

releases not printed consist almost entirely

of formal announcements, biographical

data on appointees, background informa-

tion, and purely ceremonial items. Included

and faithfully reproduced are all the impor-

tant public utterances and messages, among

them the inaugural address, the special

messages on domestic reform and govern-

mental reorganization, the addresses to the

nation on domestic problems and the Viet-

nam war, the remarks made on the Euro-

pean tour and the trip around the world,

the descriptions of new departures in vol-

untary action and business-government co-

operation, and previously restricted por-

tions of the press conference on Guam

(where the President first enunciated the

Nixon Doctrine) and the remarks concern-

ing selection of a Chief Justice of the

United States. As in previous volumes, the

items are in strict chronological sequence,

but an excellent index enables the reader

to locate quickly those pertaining to any

given topic.

Given the tendency of American histo-

rians to organize their nation's history

around Presidential administrations and to

debate the elements of continuity and

change from one administration to the next,

this volume will probably be used more

extensively than some of its predecessors.

Already, it seems, considerable disagree-

ment exists concerning the direction and

extent of policy changes during the period

since January 1969; and already Nixon has

been variously interpreted as a younger

Eisenhower, a more corporate-minded Lyn-

don Johnson, a resurrected Herbert Hoover,

and, more recently, a flexible pragmatist in

the pattern of Franklin Roosevelt. In all

likelihood, future students of his adminis-

tration will find themselves testing these

conflicting assessments against the available

evidence. And for this volume, with its

authentic record of the President's public

positions, initiatives, and reactions during

his first year in office, they will be grateful.




University of Iowa




Stephen Douglas: The Last Years, 1857-

1861. By DAMON WELLS. (Austin: Univer-

sity of Texas Press, 1971. xvi + 342p.;