I have at last finished Richard Nixon‘s extraordinary 1962 Six Crises. He wrote the book after his loss to J.F. Kennedy in the 1960 Presidential election (which came after eight years’ service as Vice-President) and on the eve of his equally ill-fated bid to become Governor of California. The crises Nixon recounts were all, he believed, seminal and formative moments in his political career, starting with the 1948 Hiss case, and culminating with the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy campaign. The ‘iron butt’ that enabled Nixon to win scholarships to work his way through college was also much in display in his dogged pursuit of Alger Hiss, a case with hints of the paranoia that would lead to the Watergate affair and his ignominious 1974 resignation. The four other crises he relates were the 1952 allegations of a secret political fund, President Eisenhower’s 1955 heart attack and subsequent health problems, communist-led violence during a 1958 visit to Caracas, and his 1959 ‘kitchen debate’ with Nikita Kruschev in Moscow. Throughout his accounts Nixon is disarmingly honest about his obsessive preparation and mastery of briefings. Nothing was left to chance and yet – this is the huge irony running through the book – chance events were forever throwing up the crises he writes about.