According to award-winning author and former investigative journalist John A. Farrell, Richard Nixon is still a subject that draws big interest, especially now in the political era of President Donald Trump.
“People still have burning questions about topics surrounding Nixon, like Watergate, Vietnam, the Kennedy debates, the Checkers speech; you name it.”
And while he says that a large sector of his readers seem to be people who were alive during those historical moments in Nixon’s career, “there is still a large sector of young people who are fascinated by him.”
“He was the only president to resign; he went to China and changed the world. … Fifty years ago, there was an oil spill in Santa Barbara that pushed Nixon to become one the strongest environmental (leaders) and he signed legislation to begin the EPA.”
But Farrell adds that Nixon’s life was also filled with tragedy and heartbreak, and he tries to present all sides of his life.
Farrell will bring his 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist, “Richard Nixon: The Life,” to the Savannah Book Festival at 2:50 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Lutheran Church Sanctuary. This is Farrell’s first visit to Savannah.
He is also the author of “Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned,” which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, as well as the highly reviewed “Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century.” Farrell’s work as an investigative journalist is also noteworthy; he worked many years at The Boston Globe as a White House correspondent and served on the award-winning Spotlight team.
His latest biography has garnered huge praise for shining new light on events during Nixon’s quick rise to president and also offers new insight into his role in Vietnam and Watergate. He credits the release of new tapes and records that had been sealed during the creation of the last great Nixon biography written by famed American historian Stephen Ambrose.
“The book has received good reviews in part due to the fact that … I had the advantage of having access to new oral histories and full access to tapes that Ambrose didn’t have.”
And Farrell says he plans to answer as many questions as he can from the audience during his appearance at the Savannah Book Festival.
“I’m here for them,” he adds. “... Nixon lived this amazing, Shakespearean life; it's really hard to fit all of that into one hour.
“At most of these types of events, you’ll see me talking to people in the hallways long after my presentation has ended.”