Mr Perlstein’s biggest contribution to his subject is to set Nixon’s private resentments in the context of a broader culture of resentment. “Nixonland” is a study of how the consensus of the early 1960s turned into the cacophony of the late 1960s, when “regular” white Americans found everything they held dear thrown into question: threatened by black activists, looked down upon by pointy-headed intellectuals, vilified by student radicals, corroded by a rising tide of lawlessness and vulgarity and fatally challenged not just by the anti-war movement but also by America’s failure to achieve its aims in Vietnam. As far as Nixon’s supporters were concerned, the swinging sixties were the seething sixties. Mr Perlstein rightly points out that many people supported Nixon not in spite of his boiling rage but precisely because of it.



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