Advising Nixon

The White House Memos of Patrick J. Buchanan

Lori Cox Han

In 1966 Richard Nixon hired Patrick J. Buchanan, a young editorial writer at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, to help lay the groundwork for his presidential campaign. Fiercely conservative and a whiz at messaging and media strategy, Buchanan continued with Nixon through his tenure in office, becoming one of the president’s most important and trusted advisors, particularly on public matters. The copious memos he produced over this period, counseling the president on press relations, policy positions, and political strategy, provide a remarkable behind-the-scenes look into the workings of the Nixon White House—and a uniquely informed perspective on the development and deployment of ideas and practices that would forever change presidential conduct and US politics.

Of the thousand housed at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, presidential scholar Lori Cox Han has judiciously selected 135 of Buchanan’s memos that best exemplify the significant nature and reach of his influence in the Nixon administration. Here, in his now-familiar take-no-prisoners style, Buchanan can be seen advancing his deeply conservative agenda, counterpunching against advisors he considered too moderate, and effectively guiding the president and his administration through a changing, often hostile political environment. On every point of policy and political issue—foreign and domestic—through two successful campaigns, Nixon’s first term, and the fraught months surrounding the Watergate debacle, Buchanan presses his advantage, all the while honing the message that would push conservatism ever rightward in the following years. Expertly edited and annotated by Han, Advising Nixon: The White House Memos of Patrick J. Buchanan offers rare insight into the decision-making and maneuvering of some of the most powerful figures in government—with lasting consequences for American public life.

“Lori Cox Han’s Advising Nixon is essential to understand one of the most significant political advisors in modern US history. We see Pat Buchanan in all of his roles: strategist, campaign confidant, communications specialist, sentiment barometer of Nixon’s Silent Majority—even future presidential candidate. There is something new and interesting on each page!”

—Luke A. Nichter, coauthor of The Nixon Tapes: 1971–1972

“Han’s book is a model of original archival research that documents in an engaging narrative the substantial influence that conservative gadfly Pat Buchanan had on the Nixon presidency. Through the lens of Buchanan’s White House memoranda, Han’s analysis takes us through the tumultuous events of Nixon’s rise to the presidency and eventual downfall. A great read for students and observers of the Nixon years and also of the conservative movement in the United States.”

—Mark J. Rozell, dean, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

See all reviews...

About the Author

Lori Cox Han is a professor of political science at Chapman University. She is the coauthor, with Diane J. Heith, of Presidents and the American Presidency and the editor of Hatred of America’s Presidents: Personal Attacks on the White House from Washington to Trump, among many other works.