Frost / Nixon: David Frost

It’s considered to be one of the greatest interviews of the twentieth century. When David Frost set about arranging a series of interviews to be filmed for world television with the former American president Richard Nixon, it wasn’t realised how much organisation would be required before the interviews could occur. This book was not written at the time of the interviews of 1977, it was only published later in 2007 as the play of the interviews came into being.

Richard Nixon was the American president that was forced to resign in 1974 after the bugging scandal of Watergate was revealed. Other than his resignation no action was taken against Nixon, something that David Frost, a British journalist, hoped to remedy through a series of interviews designed to address the former president’s misconduct. The book in question contains transcripts from the original interviews and concerns itself with telling the story of how the interviews came into being, what occurred within the interviews and their aftermath.

Whilst a lot of this book was concerned with describing the logistics involved with convincing a former president to bare all, the writing style keeps this from remaining dry. Frost’s way with words in his interviews translated well on to the page. Despite this witty commentary I still found some of this book hard-going; it was all very interesting, especially to the history student within me, but it concerned a lot of things that the Brit in me did not understand – things such as the process to having a television episode made in the United States. Apparently it involves commercial sponsors and approaching national and state-wide stations for permission to broadcast.

I learnt a vast array of things about Richard Nixon that I hadn’t known before. I learnt about how he was the one who set up the Environmental Protection Agency, how he worked towards desegregation and how he reformed the justice system with the appointments of four supreme court justices. There was a whole wealth of domestic policy that I knew nothing about, having only learnt about the continued horror that was Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. But I guess that just shows how history works doesn’t it, people are remembered as good or bad, but rarely as a shade of grey.

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