The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72
Nearly Decade-Long Public Service Reaches Milestone
Barnes & Noble /
Books-A-Million / IndieBound /
The famous — and
infamous — Nixon White House tapes that reveal President Richard
Nixon uncensored, unfiltered, and in his own words
President Nixon’s voice-activated taping
system captured every word spoken in the Oval Office, Cabinet
Room, and other key locations in the White House, and at Camp
David — 3,700 hours of recordings between 1971 and 1973. Yet
less than 5 percent of those conversations have ever been
transcribed and published. Now, thanks to professor Luke
Nichter’s massive effort to digitize and transcribe the tapes,
the world can finally read an unprecedented account of one of
the most important and controversial presidencies in U.S.
The Nixon Tapes,
with annotations and commentary by Nichter and Professor Douglas
Brinkley, offers a selection of fascinating scenes from the year
Nixon opened relations with China, negotiated the SALT I arms
agreement with the Soviet Union, and won a landslide reelection
victory. All the while, the growing shadow of Watergate and
Nixon’s political downfall crept ever closer.
The Nixon Tapes
provides a unique glimpse into a flawed president’s hubris,
paranoia, and political genius.
Visitors to this site know well that since its
launch in 2007,
nixontapes.org has always been a public service. It
has never contained advertising, never collected personal
visitors, and has always welcomed
— and responded to
suggestions, and research requests.
The goal of this public service has always
been the same: to make the Nixon tapes easily accessible to the
the U.S. Supreme Court in 1974 ruled unanimously against President Nixon's
use of executive privilege in blocking a subpoena of the tapes, in effect the court decided that
the tapes belonged not to Richard Nixon, but to all of us.
Three decades later, in 2005,
this public service began. After extensive listening and
assessing the quality and integrity of the recordings,
the process of digitization began. (More information can
be found here.) The project was
nixontapes.org on July 11, 2007, and the
digitization and uploading of all audio files
was completed in 2009
— an effort that took more than two years of continuous
work. As more tapes have been publicly released
by the National Archives the site continues to be updated.
The next phase was the massive
transcription effort, which has produced the largest
collection of transcripts in existence. With the publication of The Nixon
Tapes: 1971-1972, this nearly decade-long public
service reaches a significant milestone. The book puts
more transcripts of the tapes within easy reach of the public
than ever before. And, the audio that is the basis for the
transcripts remains freely available on this site.
But this work is not done. Far from it. It has been a
tremendous pleasure working with distinguished historian
Douglas Brinkley on this project. We both agree that one day
all audio and transcripts should be easily available in one
location, whether on these pages or elsewhere. Until that
happens, our work continues, and the publication of The
Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972 helps to ensure that it does.