Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tucson Book Fest: A Conversation with Evan Thomas, author of "Being Nixon: A Man Divided"

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 1:59 PM

Longtime Washington journalist Evan Thomas' latest book is Being Nixon: A Man Divided, a biography of former president Richard Nixon that was named one of the 10 best nonfiction books of the year by Time Magazine and was praised as a “fully rounded portrait” by the New York Times Book Review. Thomas will be in Tucson this weekend for the Tucson Festival of Books. I’ll be moderating a panel the press and the Trump administration at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 12, in the UA Gallagher Theater with Thomas, Maureen Dowd and Joe Conason. Find more info on the Tucson Festival of Books here.

Your subtitle is “A Man Divided” and you talk a lot about the dichotomy with Richard Nixon. He was very shrewd politically, he wanted to do good in the world, but he was also consumed by a darkness in the form of paranoia and fear and an impulse to strike back at his enemies. How did you find this different aspects played out for him?

Well, I’m sorry to say the dark side won. In the end, he did succumb to it. You can hear it on the tapes. But it was a long time coming and he had provocations. I’m sympathetic to him for a lot of reasons. He was a shy, awkward guy. Amazingly shy for politics, when you think about it. He had to overcome a lot just to be in politics at all. The hack cliché is that even paranoids have enemies. He did have enemies. The East Coast press was tough on him. And I think unfairly, at least at first. Nixon was no innocent. There is plenty to criticize her. I don’t absolve him. I think he should have been driven from office. But he wasn’t as bad as he was made out to be, certainly. He was subjected to some dirty tricks himself. In the 1960 election, for instance, the Kennedys played pretty hard.

I was fascinated by some of what you wrote about his post presidency and his efforts to remain in the arena and how the presidents who followed him, starting with Reagan, would welcome his advice, although not necessarily in a public manner.

Eventually. At first, Gerald Ford kept him at arm’s length and Carter kept him at a distance. But he would send these unsolicited memos—and some were obvious—but particularly when he was writing about Russia, Nixon was smart about Russia. He was particularly smart about Russia in the endgame and the collapse of communism. He saw that Boris Yeltsin was a populist hero and Nixon’s populist instincts popped up and he told Clinton to pay attention to Yeltsin. And I think Clinton was grateful about that and paid attention to that.

And he also ended up living in New York amidst some of his longtime critics and had some interesting dinner parties.

I admire Nixon for doing that. It’s easy to make fun of it, because Nixon was just as unctuous as ever. I talked to a Time magazine columnist who went to one of these things and had to use a telephone. Nixon sent him into his study and being a nosy columnist, he saw on Nixon’s desk that Nixon had not only written his talking points for the evening, but also bad jokes. Nixon left nothing to chance. There were lame jokes. That was typical of Nixon and it’s easy to make fun of that. But the very fact that Nixon had these people to dinner and was in the the belly of the beast—he could have just played golf and lived in San Clemente, but he didn’t.

You credit him with creating the modern-day Republican Party by siphoning off disaffected Democrats with the law-and-order themes in his campaigns. Did you see something similar with Donald Trump’s campaign last year?

There’s tremendous overlap there. Nixon, because he himself had suffered at the hands of snobs like me, had a feeling for what it was like to be scorned and mocked and left behind and shunned by elites. And Nixon put that to good advantage in his political career. It is very, very significant that Nixon discovered Roger Ailes. He was a booker for the XX show, daytime TV for housewives, in a suburb of Pennsylvania and Nixon found him and hired him in ’68. Ailes was a genius but it takes a genius to know a genius. And Ailes’ genius, for which he made billions of dollars for Rupert Murdoch, was to attack the liberal media for having a bias. People in my business never want to admit we had a bias. I used to get in trouble for saying on TV occasionally that the media did have a liberal bias. I used to get into hot water with my liberal friends for admitting the truth. Ailes had some problems, but he was a genius and Nixon was able to see that.

Now you have the Trump Democrats. But while Nixon had a strong grasp on international affairs, some of Trump’s critics say he doesn’t have the same knowledge and he’s kind of winging it. There are these questions about the Russian influence, but beyond that, Republicans like John McCain are questioning if Trump is committed to NATO and the European Union and the whole idea of “The West.”

The biggest difference is that Nixon read incessantly. He was shy and so smart, but he didn’t like to talk to human beings, he’d rather read. Trump apparently has read nothing. I think Trump watches TV and doesn’t even like to read briefing papers. Nixon had a very sophisticated world view. He and Kissinger could stay up all night talking. I don’t think Trump does that. Having said that, playing this Russia card—I think Trump may be trying to do intuitively what Nixon did methodically. And I don’t know that Trump is all wrong. People say we have to enemies with Russia. Well, do we, really? But I think Trump does seem to be winging it. It doesn’t seem to be very well thought out.

What do you make of Trump calling the media “the enemy of the American people”?

I think that’s careless. He wants to use the media as a foil. Nixon did this. Remember the nattering nabobs of negativity with Spiro Agnew? This is a page right out of Nixon’s playbook. And it works because it’s fun to hate the press. So I understand from a political point of view and the press walks into Trump’s trap pretty easily by getting too hot and bothered about Trump and they’re playing into Trump’s hand. Having said that, I do think Trump is playing with fire a little bit. Trump seems to be heedless of the Constitution and kind of careless about checks and balances. Trump can sound like a proto-tyrant. You can overdraw these analogies and I don’t want to go too far here but it’s careless. When you say the press is the enemy of the American people, that’s incendiary. That’s not true, for one thing, and I understand the politics, but it’s a little dangerous and it may be dangerous for him. What’s the cliché? You shouldn’t pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel. Picking a fight with the Washington Post and The New York Times was not a good idea for Richard Nixon and it’s maybe not a good idea for Donald Trump.

But the media landscape has changed a lot since Nixon’s day.

That’s a good point, and that’s why these analogies get a little rocky. Technology does change things. The Times and the Post are not the central players that they were. Back in Nixon’s day, 90 percent of the American people had their TV sets on at 6:30 watching three channels. So basically the entire country was getting the same 23 minutes of news. And that news was taken right out of the pages of the Times and the Post. Basically, The New York Times, indirectly, told Americans what to think. That’s just not true now. People get it from all over, including, unfortunately, fake news, Breitbart, all that. The whole fake news thing I find frightening.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tucson Weekly Folks at Tucson Festival of Books

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 2:55 PM


It’s Tucson Festival of Books season this weekend at the UA campus. Every year a small crew of Tucson Weekly staff and contributors participate. It’s a wonderful festival this year and we are all proud to help and offer our support. For the full schedule to plan your literary weekend, go to
  • Margaret Regan will moderate the panel Collective Amnesia on Saturday, March 11, 1 p.m. at the Pima County Public Library/Nuestras Raíces Presentation Stage with authors Tim Hernandez (All They Will Call You), Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith (Migrant Deaths in the Arizona Desert) and Maceo Montoya (You Must Fight Them and Chicano Movement for Beginners).
  • Jim Nintzel will moderate the panel Race in America on Sunday, March 12, 10 a.m. in Koffler Room 204 with Tim Z. Hernandez, Ibram X. Kendi, Patrick Phillips and Pamela Rotner Sakamoto.
  • Mari Herreras will moderate the panel The Tajana: Another State of Mind at the Pima County Public Library/Nuestras Raíces Presentation Stage on Saturday, March 11, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with Guadalupe Garcia McCall and Emmy Perez.

Friday, December 2, 2016

You're a Wizard, Harry: A Harry Potter Ball at Your Favorite Barnes & Noble

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 2:10 PM

  • Glen Bowman/via
Have you always known you're a witch or wizard at heart? Well, shed your muggle-ness for an evening of holiday celebration and magic at your local Barnes and Noble for the Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball.

Barnes and Noble locations across the country will hold a Yule-ball inspired dance party at all stores in the U.S. on Friday, Dec. 9 from 7-9 p.m. Muggles of all ages are welcome to join in on the holiday fun. 

Whether you want to come in your best-dressed, as your favorite Potter character or in your Hogwarts uniform, there will be festive activities to celebrate all things Potter.

Because of the obvious popularity of this free event, Barnes and Noble said customers should call their local store ahead of time for capacity limits or special instructions.  

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Send Some Love to Your Local Library

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Be still my heart. - TIMETRAX23/FLICKR.COM
  • timetrax23/
  • Be still my heart.

Now, you no longer have to adore your local library in private. You can send a love letter to the your favorite library about anything that swoons you—the old book smell, the never-ending shelves or the cool librarian that always helps you out. 

After four years of Love Letters to Tucson, a project started by local blogger Rachel Miller, Pima County libraries is now starting their own version of the project called Love Letters to My Library. This new project started on Oct. 21 in collaboration with local libraries and Miller herself.

Local libraries will take in new entries every month on the libraries' website and on the official website for Love Letters to Tucson. If you've got some love to share to your library or any questions about the program you can email

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Antigone Books Is Looking For New Owners

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 8:39 AM


Are you up for the job of leading one of Tucson's most wonderful feminist and literary sanctuaries? Antigone Books (411 N. 4th Ave.) is up for grabs.

Here's the email Antigone's subscribers received last night, in its entirety:  
The two of us have owned Antigone Books for more than 25 years, happy to
be part of Antigone's long (43 year) history. It's been an absolutely fabulous time, surrounded as we've been by great staff, great customers, wonderful books and assorted miscellany.

It's getting to be time for us to pass the baton! Hard as it is even for us to believe, we are ready to begin a careful search for a new owner or owners
who will be a great match for the store. Might that person be you or someone you know?

There's no rush on this process. We'll be continuing with business as usual at
the store, meanwhile taking our time to look for the perfect person or persons.

Continue reading »

Friday, September 16, 2016

Get Reading for National Library Card Month

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 11:30 AM

It's National Library Card Month! The Pima County Public Library is teaming up with the American Library Association to ensure that everyone in the community gets their hands on a library card. The best part about the library is that it's free, but you have to have a library card. If you are on the fence about getting a card, the county library has recruited the help of the Peanuts characters like Snoopy to help convince you

To learn more about how you can get a library card to one of the 27 libraries in the county visit:

If you're not sure what to use your new library card for, check out book recommendations from Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Lucy and Schroeder

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Retelling American History in The Whale: A Love Story

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 2:22 PM

It's a story of romance and heartbreak and it's definitely not one that any of us learned in high school. Mark Beauregard's latest novel The Whale: A Love Story tells the romantic story of a love that could never be in the late 1800's between Herman Melville, the author of the American classic Moby Dick and Nathaniel Hawthorne, the acclaimed author of The Scarlett Letter.

Since his book hit the shelves, Beauregard has toured across the country promoting his work in New England and states in the southwest. Now, he's back home in Tucson and will be at Antigone Books (411 N. 4th Ave.) on Friday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. to talk about his new story and the complications of writing on historical figures.    

Beauregard didn't actually intend to write The Whale, rather he said he was inspired to create the story after he discovered a documented friendship between Melville and Hawthorne during his research for a different novel, which he later abandoned. After further research, he found letters that suggested the acclaimed writers' friendship was something more, which gave him the illuminating idea to write the love story.

"If you think of Moby Dick as being a love letter, in addition to it being a confrontation to the frontier or however else you want to think about it, it completely changes the way we look at literature," he said.  

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fastpitch Signing

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 6:31 PM

Author Erica Westly will be having a book reading for her new book Fastpitch: The Untold History of Softball and the Women who Made the Game, this Saturday. 

Fastpitch features an interesting mix of personal stories from eclectic characters, such as former UA player Jennie Finch. 

Detailing the vibrant 129-year history the book shares the origins of a sport played by thousands across the country. 

Westly shatters the idea that softball is a stereotypical "girl's sport" by putting a spotlight on the several male athletes who played in the early years of creation. 

The book share's the unknown history of softball from the perspectives of influential players who experienced the sport's key moments.

Sound interesting? Head over to Antigone Books (411 N. Fourth Ave.), on Saturday, June 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. to meet the author, Erica Westly.

For more information visit or call 792-3715. 

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Staff Pick

Tucson's 242nd Birthday Celebration

Tucson's Birthday Celebration. This year the event continues to grow as a family-friendly informative and food tasting… More

@ Presidio San Agustín de Tucsón Mon., Aug. 21, 5:30 p.m. 196 N. Court Avenue

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