Stephen Hess' delightful account of Nixon and Moynihan


Anyone familiar with Stephen Hess's droll and youthful demeanor will be taken aback, just a little, by his recounting that he was a speechwriter for President Eisenhower from 1958 to 1961 — so long ago! It comes on the first page of his delightful memoir The Professor and the President: Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Nixon White House. Steve begins by noting that "I am the only person — perhaps in the world — who was a friend of both Richard Nixon and Daniel Patrick Moynihan before they knew each other."

The Professor and the President is a quick and delightful read, full of insight about these two distinctive and original men, plus new information, unearthed from documents previously unexamined. Nixon and Moynihan were an unlikely match, but each was an unlikely fit for his position, Nixon as president and Moynihan as presidential adviser—sometimes brilliant and original, but also (and perhaps inevitably) sometimes error-prone. This is an elegant and precious book, essential to understanding important episodes in our history, which only Steve Hess could have written.