Just in time for the rush of news coverage and events surrounding the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon comes a wholly different perspective and undertaking with a book that is surely to make for many conversations about ‘what if’ Nixon had taken a different path in 1974.
What promises to be a most intriguing offering as we reflect on August 8, 1974 is the work from John Taylor who has authored Jackson Place, in which a fictional 37th president chooses to undergo a Senate impeachment trial instead of quitting.
If you are a politically-minded person who relishes such scenarios in book form as I do then the whole premise that Taylor constructs is one that makes you yearn for a quiet Saturday afternoon so to open the front cover and settle in for a pleasurable read. Anyone who lived through the period that we will observe this coming month will note the cover of the new book has a ‘Herblock’ rendering of the main character. It makes one wish to open the book at once!
In a press release Taylor recalls that “Mr. Nixon was fond of historical ‘what ifs?’, as are many scholars. So I imagined a 25-year-old White House lawyer whose rabbi inspires her to talk him out of resigning. My fictional conjectures include plenty of romance and dirty tricks as well as a different outcome in Vietnam and the struggle for control of the Republican Party”.
I have long appreciated John Taylor, who served on former President Nixon’s staff from 1979-90, including six years as his chief of staff. Taylor was also the director of the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California from 1990 until, under Taylor’s leadership, it became part of the federal system of presidential libraries in 2007. His work included overseeing President and Mrs. Nixon’s funerals in 1994 and 1993. Chosen by President Nixon as one of two executors of his estate, he helped pave the way for the opening of the Nixon White House tapes and other historical materials. He became Mr. Nixon’s chief of staff in 1984, traveling with him to the Soviet Union, China, and many other countries, helping with six of his books, and overseeing plans for the Nixon Library.
I had from time to time, offered him a note or posed a question and was surprised–and heartened–that he responded in his capacity as the director of the library . After all, I am just a history buff in Madison, Wisconsin who finds the life and times of Richard Nixon a continual source of fascination and exploration. But I never forgot in light of so many other emails he would have received that he took a minute to respond to my notes.
I followed Taylor’s transition from the library so as to follow other pursuits, namely to become an Episcopal priest since 2004. He now serves as vicar of St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church and School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Over the past weeks we have connected on Facebook.
I knew Taylor was writing this book and that the topic reflected events from the summer of 1974 and the resignation of Nixon. I can say with certainty I am looking forward to reading Taylor’s novel that will take the reader on a different path than what the headlines and history books show happened 40 years ago.
Jackson Place will be available starting July 21 at Amazon.com as a trade paperback and an e-book. Wynewood Press published Taylor’s first novel, Patterns of Abuse, in 1988.
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Thanks so much, Deke! I hope you enjoy the story.