February 28, 2019
The John Brademas Center of New York University hosted a conversation with author Michael Koncewicz to discuss his new book, They Said No to Nixon: Republicans Who Stood Up to the President’s Abuses of Power. NYU Wagner professor Timothy Naftali served as interlocutor for the discussion.
Michael Koncewicz is the Cold War Collections Specialist at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. He previously worked for the National Archives at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum and received his PhD from the University of California, Irvine in 2014. He is the author of They Said No to Nixon: Republicans Who Stood Up to the President's Abuses of Power (University of California Press, 2018). His work has appeared in History News Network, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.
With a joint appointment in History and at Wagner, Timothy Naftali is a Clinical Associate Professor of Public Service and a Clinical Associate Professor of History. A native of Montreal and a graduate of Yale with a doctorate in history from Harvard, Naftali writes on national security and intelligence policy, international history and presidential history. Using Soviet-era documents, he and Russian academic Aleksandr Fursenko wrote the prize-winning One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-1964 and Khrushchev’s Cold War, the latter winning the Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature in 2007 and inclusion on Foreign Affairs’ 2014 list of the ten best books on the Cold War. As a consultant to the 9/11 Commission, Naftali wrote a history of US counterterrorism policy, published as Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism.
Naftali came to NYU Wagner after serving as the founding director of the federal Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, where he authored the Library's nationally acclaimed exhibit on Watergate and oversaw the release of 1.3 million pages of presidential documents and nearly 700 hours of the infamous Nixon tapes. Naftali, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Slate and Foreign Affairs, is also seen regularly on television as a commentator on contemporary history. Most recently, he was featured in CNN’s The Sixties and The Seventies and in the PBS documentaries Dick Cavett’s Watergate, Dick Cavett’s Vietnam, and The Bomb.
About the Book
In more than three thousand recorded conversations, the Nixon tapes famously exposed a president’s sinister views of governance that would eventually lead to his downfall. Despite Richard Nixon’s best efforts, his vision of a government where he could use his power to punish his political enemies never came to fruition because members of his own party defied his directives. While many are familiar with the Republicans who turned against Nixon during the final stages of the Watergate saga, They Said No to Nixonuncovers for the first time those within the administration—including Nixon’s own appointees—who opposed the White House early on, quietly blocking the president’s attacks on the IRS, the Justice Department, and other sectors of the federal government.
Culling from previously unpublished excerpts from the tapes and recently released materials that expose the thirty-seventh president’s uncensored views, Michael Koncewicz reveals how Republican party members remained loyal civil servants in the face of Nixon’s attempts to expand the imperial presidency.
Delving into the abuses of power surrounding the Watergate era and showing how they were curbed, They Said No to Nixonsheds light on the significant cultural and ideological shifts that occurred within the GOP during the pivotal 1970s. Koncewicz deftly demonstrates how Nixon’s administration marked a decisive moment that led to the rise of modern conservatism and today’s ruthlessly partisan politics.
The NYU Washington, DC Salon Series: Conversations with Writers & Artists presents an opportunity for the NYU and Washington, DC community to meet and engage in dialogue with acclaimed writers and artists as they reflect on their craft. This program provides facilitated conversations that aim to illuminate the guests’ creative processes, discuss their current works, and explain the impact of their work on the world around us. The Salon Series is made possible by NYU Washington, DC through the collaboration of NYU schools, departments and centers, as well as through special relationships with selected external organizations.