Books: A Case of Divided Loyalties FREEDOM

by William Safire; Doubleday; 1,125 pages; $24.95

This behemothian novel comes from a surprising source. William Safire has largely made his reputation through epigrammatic feistiness and hit-and-run repartee. As a speechwriter in the Nixon White House, he gave Spiro Agnew the epithets and alliterations ("nattering nabobs of negativism") to attack liberal opponents of Administration policies. In 1973 he became a columnist for the New York Times, just as Watergate began to drag his conservative cause and many former colleagues into disrepute. Safire not only survived that debacle but prevailed: he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1978, and his twice-a-week columns continue to display reportorial zeal and refreshing unpredictability....

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