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Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr. returned to the White House on May 3, 1973, to find the Nixon administration in worse shape than he had imagined. President Richard Nixon, re-elected in an overwhelming landslide just six months earlier, had accepted the resignations of his top aides - Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman-just three days earlier. Haldeman and Ehrlichman had enforced the president's will and protected him from his rivals and his worst instincts for four years. Without them, Nixon stood alone, backed by a staff that lacked gravitas and confidence in the wake of the snowballing Watergate scandal. Nixon needed a savior, someone who would lift his fortunes while keeping his White House from blowing apart. Nixon hoped that savior would be his deputy national security adviser, Alexander Haig. Nixon, for whom Haig claimed he was fighting, was undermined by the man he most counted on to help him. Haig provided little of the loyalty Nixon had received from Haldeman and Ehrlichman, and Nixon's presidency and legacy suffered for it. Haig's job was not to keep Nixon in office, it was to remove him. In Haig's Coup, Ray Locker uses recently declassified documents, oral histories, and a private trove of research on Nixon and Haig to tell the true story of how Haig orchestrated Nixon's demise, resignation, and subsequent pardon. A story of intrigues, cover-ups and treachery, Haig's Coup shows how Haig engineered what has been called the "soft coup" that removed Nixon while allowing Haig to save himself.
After being sworn in as president, Richard Nixon told the assembled crowd that "government will listen. ... Those who have been left out, we will try to bring in." But that same day, he obliterated those pledges of greater citizen control of government by signing National Security Decision Memorandum 2, a document that made sweeping changes to the national security power structure. Nixon's signature erased the influence that the departments of State and Defense, as well as the CIA, had over Vietnam and the course of the Cold War. The new structure put Nixon at the center, surrounded by loyal aides and a new national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, who coordinated policy through the National Security Council under Nixon's command. Using years of research and revelations from newly released documents, USA Today reporter Ray Locker upends much of the conventional wisdom about the Nixon administration and its impact and shows how the creation of this secret, unprecedented, extra-constitutional government undermined U.S. policy and values. In doing so, Nixon sowed the seeds of his own destruction by creating a climate of secrecy, paranoia, and reprisal that still affects Washington today.
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