One thing that becomes apparent if one’s followed the world of books for a while is that when the anniversary of a famed personality’s birth (or sometimes death) comes up, there are likely to be one or more volumes to mark the occasion.
In the world of literature, John Milton’s 400th birthday last year was marked with at least one major biography and several books about his poetry, and Samuel Johnson is receiving similar treatment this year for his 300th birthday. And the 200th birthdays of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln (which, as every schoolchild used to know, both fall on February 12) have been commemorated with dozens of new books in recent months.
January 9, 2013, will mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of President Nixon, and this week news came of a major work planned to mark the event. The London Telegraph, in its “Mandrake” column, quotes former British cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken as saying,
“I’m planning to write a new life of Nixon to mark the centenary of his birth in 2013[...] The first book I wrote was Nixon: A Life, so it makes sense to revisit him for his anniversary.”
What Aitken probably said to the Telegraph’s writer was that his outstanding 1993 biography Nixon: A Life (the only such work published after RN’s presidency to receive the subject’s full cooperation, as I wrote here last week) was his first biography, followed by lives of Charles W. Colson and John Newton of “Amazing Grace” fame; his first book, A Short Walk On The Campus (co-written with Michael Beloff) was published in 1966.
But whether the planned book is a revision and update of Nixon: A Life or amounts to a completely new work (and with the release of the White House recordings and countless pages of documents unavailable when the previous book was written), this is indeed welcome news to anyone hoping to gain new knowledge and insights into RN and his presidency.