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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning novelist Austin Grossman reimagines the Cold War as an epic battle against the occult waged by the ultimate American antihero - Richard Nixon.

Richard Milhous Nixon lived one of the most improbable lives of the 20th century. Our 37th president's political career spanned the button-down '50s, the Mad Men '60s, and the turbulent '70s. He faced down the Russians, the Chinese, and, ultimately, his own government. The man went from political mastermind to a national joke, sobbing in the Oval Office, leaving us with one burning question: How could he have lost it all?

Here, for the first time, is the tale told in his own words: the terrifying supernatural secret he stumbled upon as a young man, the truth behind the Cold War, and the truth behind the Watergate cover-up. What if our nation's worst president was actually a pivotal figure caught in a desperate struggle between ordinary life and horrors from another reality? What if the man we call our worst president was, in truth, our greatest?

In Crooked, Nixon finally reveals the secret history of modern American politics as only Austin Grossman could reimagine it. Combining Lovecraftian suspense, international intrigue, Russian honey traps, and a presidential marriage whose secrets and battles of attrition were their own heroic saga, Grossman's novel is a masterwork of alternative history, equal parts mesmerizing character study and nail-biting Faustian thriller.

©2015 Austin Grossman (P)2015 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about Crooked

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I'm speechless, but I have to write something.

The few times I got to see Nixon up close gave me a sort of sympathy for the man. I almost cried when this book came to an end. It made him so human. The demon story takes a huge back seat to the delightful insights into the political process in general, and the presidency in particular. Loved it!

7 people found this helpful

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Excellent narration

The book captures the essence of Nixon: angry, self-righteous, and deceitful, but also surprisingly human.

2 people found this helpful

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Fun, entertaining, revelatory

The trips up and down the plot mountain were great even if the apex was a bit underwhelming. Grossman did a great job with Nixon, propelling him through a heroic narrative without giving into the fantastic realm enough to make Nixon heroic. He was unflatteringly believable and weak and obstinate and arrogant and ignorant. Somehow it resonated with those weak parts in us enough to come close enough to endearing that we not only could stomach Nixon but accept and even laud him.

The quality of the voice acting was superb. Every character was noticeable for its unique vocal quality, giving the illusion of a cast rather than as single reader.

1 person found this helpful

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Just a perfect story

Leaves you wanting more. A alternative history that doesn't change the final out come of historical events just how and why they occurred. Grossman's dark humor is subtle and intelligent. VandenHeuvel Nixon is spot on and manages to convey a spectrum of emotions without going over the top with what can be one of most cliche impressions of our time.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

A mashup of history, sciFi, and literate fiction

The presenter is very Nixon-like for the bulk of the novel. If you can’t get past that reconsider and read the print novel. He does the inflections and rhythms in Nixon’s vocal patterns which for most sections works quite well and makes Crooked entertaining, maybe too much so.
The book moves along crisply although there were sections that made me think the Nixonian narration might be at odds with the text which means I’ll probably read it if I return to it. The sciFi aspect is fun but a bit underdeveloped. The better examples are in Eisenhower and Nixon’s relationship and Pat and Dick’s ever changing relationship.
This is the profane, fallen Nixon that explains in its alternate reality much of his motivations and pettiness. As another reviewer said, it almost humanizes Nixon and makes you feel bad for him. At least that reality’s Nixon. And to be clear, this IS about an alternate reality, not ours.
It is playful with actual events and spins a fun narrative while offering interesting considerations of the man. There is humor, there is pathos, and there are interesting differences that are fun for those familiar or unfamiliar which is why I reccomend the book to friends and in extension Audible listeners.

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Great story, mostly great reader

Loved the book and the performance overall. Only thing that drags it down is the reader’s Kissinger voice. He is an important character and for whatever reason it was decided he would whisper all the time. That’s all I’ll say for fear of spoilers.

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Brilliant

Funny and dry and ansurd. Some brilliant turns of phrase, a perfect channeling of Nixon's voice and a dash of Lovecraftian horror finishes off this masterpiece.

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Excellent voice acting, a story that doesn’t quite deliver

The narrator does an amazing job of bringing Nixon to life, recreating his rough, gravely delivery without turning the performance into overblown parody. He also has quite a talent for creating unique voices for the other characters.
The story is a mixed bag, in my opinion. Grossman does a good job of walking the fine line between making you pity Nixon and making you despise him. I found myself really getting into his life, curious to see how the hidden occult layer of things altered known events. The story fell flat, however, where it comes to the events at the Watergate hotel. Grossman glosses over the incident, talking about it in only the vaguest of terms and merely hinting at what happened and why, as if the reader is expected to have read an account of it elsewhere. Frankly, I’m deducting a full star from Story and Overall solely for that reason.
Additionally, there are a few things mentioned in the first chapter of the book that are never resolved such as why Nixon had to fake his death. It’s like Grossman put them in the storymeaning to get back to them but then never bothered to reread his stuff.

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Wacky but interesting

While it can be slow at times the premise of the book is so out there and novel that it all works. If you can suspend your disbelief it could totally explain Nixon.

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The narration MAKES this book!

I like to describe this book as Richard Nixon's personal biography as written by Edgar Allan Poe, with additional technical consultation by HP Lovecraft. To be fair... I live in Yorba Linda California (birthplace and home of the Nixon library), so in many ways, it was almost per-destined that I bought this book (that and the fact that I loved Austin Grossman's "Soon I will be invincible"... so maybe it was more likely true destiny). With that disclosure out there, this books is both brilliant and tedious simultaneously. It is expertly written and ponders so well on Nixon's enter monologue that sometimes you begin to forget it is a work of fiction rather than his personal memoirs. Combined with the tone perfect narration by Kiff VanderHauvel (which feels like he is directly channeling Nixon from beyond the grave), three fourths of this book can only be described as brilliant. Unfortunately the last fourth of the book becomes tedious and way over the top. So much so that all the believably carefully crafted in the early part of the book is lost to a feeling of contrived occult ridiculousness. Despite the failings in the latter quarter of the story I truly enjoyed this unique story and alternative to take on history.