The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority, by Patrick J. Buchanan (Crown Forum, 400 pp., $28)
In December 1965, a 27-year-old journalist with slick black hair and pudgy cheeks, a Columbia Journalism School grad who had spent three years churning out conservative editorials for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and was now bored, looking for the Next Big Thing, saw it heading his way and pounced. Richard Nixon was coming to Belleville, Ill., to address local Republicans. Muscling his way through the private reception that followed, the young man reminded Nixon he had caddied for him at Burning Tree, ten years earlier, then announced: “If you’re going to run in ’68, I’d like to come aboard early.”
Nixon’s characteristically canny instinct to hire Patrick J. Buchanan — as an issues analyst, speechwriter, traveling companion, sounding board, and sotto voce emissary to the right wing — gave rise to a close working relationship that was to last nearly a decade, until a Marine helicopter ascended from the White House lawn on August 9, 1974.