Book details

The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon

The Life and Times of Washington’s Most Private First Lady

Author: Heath Hardage Lee

The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon

The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon

About This Book

A new, revolutionary look into the brilliant life of Pat Nixon.

In America’s collective consciousness, Pat Nixon has long been perceived as enigmatic. She was voted...

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Book Details

A new, revolutionary look into the brilliant life of Pat Nixon.

In America’s collective consciousness, Pat Nixon has long been perceived as enigmatic. She was voted “Most Admired Woman in the World” in 1972 and made Gallup Poll’s top ten list of most admired women fourteen times. She survived the turmoil of the Watergate scandal with her popularity and dignity intact. The real Pat Nixon, however, bore little resemblance to the woman so often described as elusive, mysterious and “plastic” in the press. Pat married Richard Nixon in June of 1940. As the couple rose to prominence, Pat became Second Lady from 1953-1961 and then First Lady from 1969-1974, forging her own graceful path between the protocols of the strait-laced mid-century and the bra-burning Sixties and Seventies.

Pat was a highly travelled First Lady, visiting eighty-three countries during her tenure. After a devastating earthquake in Peru in 1970, she personally flew in medical supplies and food to hard-hit areas, meeting one-on-one with victims of the tragedy. The First Lady’s 1972 trips with her husband to China and to Russia were critical to the detente that resulted. Back in the US, Pat greatly expanded upon previous preservation efforts in the White House, obtaining more art and antique objects than any other First Lady. In the domestic arena, she was progressive on women’s issues, favoring the Equal Rights Amendment and backing a targeted effort to get more women into high level government jobs. Pat strongly supported nominating a woman for the Supreme Court. She was pro-choice, supporting women’s reproductive rights publicly even before the landmark Roe v. Wade case in 1973.

When asked to define her “signature” First Lady agenda, she defied being put into a box, often saying: “People are my project.” The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon, Heath Hardage Lee presents readers with the essential nature of this First Lady, an empathetic, adventurous, self-made woman who wanted no power or influence, but who connected warmly with both ordinary Americans and people from different cultures she encountered world-wide.

Imprint Publisher

St. Martin's Press



In The News

“The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon is a marvelous biography—a deeply reported, illuminating story of love, ambition, and influence. With vivid detail based on new sources, Heath Hardage Lee brings to life a complex and memorable figure in a book that never fails to fascinate.” — Jonathan Eig, New York Times bestselling author of King: A Life and Ali: A Life

"Everything I thought I knew about Pat Nixon was upended by reading Heath Hardage Lee’s astonishing new biography. Beautiful, steely, and charismatic, Pat Nixon was, in Henry Kissinger’s words, a woman ‘totally without illusions,’ who cloaked her extraordinary ambition in the guise of ‘The Nation’s Ideal Housewife.’ The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon convinced me that the tragedy of Watergate could have been avoided entirely had Dick Nixon followed the path of his remarkable First Lady." – Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Madam: The Biography of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz Age

“For this reader, Pat Nixon came to life in surprising ways in The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon. She was smarter than people knew, funnier than people expected and stronger than people gave her credit for. She was also a successful diplomat for her husband and contributed to his political success including her advancing of his commitment to civil rights – all documented here for the first time. As Dick later said of Pat, “She deserved so much more.” That she did... and she gets it here.” – J Randy Taraborelli, New York Times bestselling author of Jackie: Public, Private, Secret

"I first met Pat Nixon in October 1952 when I was six years old. Over the following two-plus decades, she became one of the most admired women in the country. Yet, somehow, Americans never seemed to come to really know her. In The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon, Heath Lee reveals Pat Nixon to be a strong, complex, intensely human woman whose life deserves to be appreciated in full. Mrs. Nixon is a mystery no more.” – Christine Todd Whitman, 50th Governor of New Jersey and best-selling author of It’s My Party Too

"The personification of the postwar ideal of the self-effacing homemaker, Pat Nixon was an intensely private person, in a painfully public role, at a time when America's role and a woman's role were both subjects of bitter debate. To relive that era of turmoil from the First Lady's anguished vantage point in Heath Lee’s thoroughly researched and elegantly written biography is unexpectedly enthralling. As her husband, Richard Nixon, put it, 'She also ran.'" – Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author of Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist.

"Drawing on her extensive interviews with family, former White House staff, longtime friends, and historians, Lee offers a clarifying portrait of this elusive and enigmatic woman." — Booklist

“…an intriguingly sympathetic portrait of first lady Pat Nixon…readers in search of a new perspective on the Watergate era will find it here.” — Publisher's Weekly

About the Creators

The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon

The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon