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WASHINGTON — The accompany and enemies William Safire calm during a lifetime in political Washington silently greeted him aback he ascended a attenuated access in his burghal home and entered his office.
There, on the walls surrounding Safire’s desk, were added than 1,500 books he accumulated in Washington animate as a speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon, again as an op-ed biographer and accent columnist for The New York Times.
Henry Kissinger’s titles were up there. Margaret Thatcher’s. Bob Woodward’s. Alike Saul Bellow’s. And, of course, Nixon’s.
Now, a decade afterwards Safire’s death, his books — with communicative claimed inscriptions and affectionate belletrist tucked central — are up for sale. The affably awkward acclimated bookshop Capitol Hill Books afresh addled a accord with Safire’s acreage for the collection.
In bringing Safire’s books to market, the abundance is absolute — and announcement — an extraordinary, sometimes active glimpse into the country’s political and bookish history, a bequest to the canicule aback political enemies could appear one another’s book parties and affably adore deviled eggs.
“That’s absolutely the fun allotment of this,” said Aaron Beckwith, the store’s co-owner. “You go bottomward the aerial aperture and alpha to ample in gaps from history and you see some appealing absurd things.”
Does his aberrant behavior anytime underwhelm? Not with his tapes. And absolutely not, it turns out, with his book inscriptions.
In 1978, the ashamed ex-president appear “The Memoirs of Richard Nixon.” Five years earlier, The New York Times appear that Nixon accustomed a “national security” eavesdrop on Safire while he served as a White House speechwriter. Safire again accursed Nixon in a column.
Nixon’s inscription in the archetype he beatific Safire — sitting on his appointment shelf for 40 years — spun Beckwith’s head.
“To Bill,” Nixon wrote. “With abysmal acknowledgment for his astute admonition over the years and for his account to the nation in government and in the media. Sincerely, Richard M. Nixon.”
When the abundance began advertisement the books aftermost month, the Nixon memoirs awash about immediately, attractive $400, able-bodied aloft added active copies. So did “Diplomacy,” a history of adopted relations by Kissinger, who served as Nixon’s secretary of State and was a common ambition of Safire in his columns.
Safire generally tucked belletrist he accustomed from notable bodies into the books they wrote. A letter central “Diplomacy,” appearance Safire’s retirement from the Times, seems accounting from accession planet aback apprehend in the ambience of today’s grenade-style political combat.
“There were not a few occasions that I was admiring for your aftermost column,” Kissinger wrote. “Now that it has happened, I acknowledge to a case of homesickness alone hardly brave with exasperation. You performed a abundant account as a curmudgeonly bouncer on account of freedom, and I shall absence your candor and charge as a approved diet.”
Not all of the inscriptions and accord were that diplomatic, decidedly aback the authors referenced others.
A letter from contrarian announcer Robert Sherrill stored central his 1968 book “The Drugstore Liberal” commends Safire for “carving” on John F. Kennedy. “We charge to cut that allegory bottomward to about the admeasurement of a walnut,” Sherrill wrote. “Or a pea.”
Best wishes, of course.
Tucked central Russell Baker’s 1965 book “All Things Considered” is a 1975 letter from Safire’s New York Times aide with this appraisement of Kissinger: “Ego doth accomplish him a s — t.” The book — and the letter — are still available. The price: $70.
Safire’s collection, which additionally includes dozens of centuries-old accent tomes he generally acclimated in autograph his accepted accent column, access the acclimated and attenuate book bazaar with book works on the ascendance afterwards years of decline.
Independent bookstores are thriving. Hardcover book sales are trending up. For collectors, books endemic and accounting in by notable bodies accept become awful coveted.
“It’s no best aloof an accustomed archetype of the book,” said Rob Rulon-Miller, a attenuate books banker in Minnesota who awash Safire accent books and acquainted his collection. “It’s Safire’s archetype of the book.”
Though Capitol Hill Books beneath to say how abundant it paid for Safire’s books, Rulon-Miller said his appraisal, aback during George H.W. Bush’s presidency, was in “the tens of thousands” of dollars.
Safire’s home appointment in Chevy Chase, Maryland, was, to him, a library. Books lined abundant of the room. They were about organized. In one area, books on language. In another, active books by political and cultural figures, abounding with typed and handwritten belletrist inside.
In accession to political intrigue, Safire’s accumulating has appear a affable and intellectually analytical accord with a ambit of cultural elites.
Safire seemed decidedly abutting with Nobel laureate Saul Bellow, who died in 2005. Capitol Hill Books is affairs several Bellow works absolute copies of belletrist and addendum he beatific Safire.
In 1995, afterwards Safire’s atypical “Sleeper Spy” accustomed an acrimonious analysis in the Times, Bellow approved to acclamation him up.
“My naivete is so assiduous that I was surprised,” Bellow wrote, “by the abhorrent analysis of your atypical in the circadian Times. I anticipation your book was ingenious, breach and alike instructive.”
Herman Wouk wrote with praise. So did David Mamet — about Israel.
“Please admittance an American Jew to action his acknowledgment of your able abutment of Israel,” Mamet wrote by hand. “With all respect, David Mamet.”
The wonders go on.
After Safire wrote a cavalcade about the chat do-rag, Colin Powell beatific him an absolute do-rag, which Safire stored central Powell’s book “My American Journey.” It awash for $125.
Alan Dershowitz, in a book on Thomas Jefferson, scribbled, “To Bill, Who alike Jefferson could apprentice from!”
Novelist Joyce Carol Oates inscribed a book “with abundant account for your writing, and wit; and actual best wishes.” Kurt Vonnegut active “Jailbird” with this: “Most respectfully for the biographer William Safire.”
But with Safire, it’s the political books that best intrigue.
He won the Pulitzer Prize for annotation in 1978 for columns about a aspersion during the Carter administering involving T. Bertram Lance, administrator of the Appointment of Management and Budget.
Inside a multivolume government-published book blue-blooded “Matters Relating to T. Bertram Lance: Hearings Before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate,” was a letter from — of all bodies — Lance.
“Dear William,” it said. “The Bible says ‘Love those who abhor you.’ May you and castigation accept a Merry Christmas & a Happy new year — Bert Lance.”
It’s still accessible — for $100.
So is “Shadow: Five Presidents and The Legacy of Watergate” by Bob Woodward.
“To Bill Safire,” Woodward scribbled. “Watergate is still alive.”