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From acclaimed biographer Stephen E. Ambrose comes the life of one of the most elusive and intriguing American political figures, Richard M. Nixon. From his difficult boyhood and earnest youth to bis ruthless political campaigns for Congress and Senate to his defeats in '60 and '62, Nixon emerges li From acclaimed biographer Stephen E. Ambrose comes the life of one of the most elusive and intriguing American political figures, Richard M. Nixon. From his difficult boyhood and earnest youth to bis ruthless political campaigns for Congress and Senate to his defeats in '60 and '62, Nixon emerges li


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From acclaimed biographer Stephen E. Ambrose comes the life of one of the most elusive and intriguing American political figures, Richard M. Nixon. From his difficult boyhood and earnest youth to bis ruthless political campaigns for Congress and Senate to his defeats in '60 and '62, Nixon emerges li From acclaimed biographer Stephen E. Ambrose comes the life of one of the most elusive and intriguing American political figures, Richard M. Nixon. From his difficult boyhood and earnest youth to bis ruthless political campaigns for Congress and Senate to his defeats in '60 and '62, Nixon emerges li

30 review for Nixon Volume #1: The Education of a Politician, 1913-62

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    Scrupulously fair. Ambrose stops to interpret but does so evenhandedly. He will often interpret Nixon's attitude or action is about average for his time and place. He will pause to draw attention to Nixon's notable accomplishments without drowning them in foreshadowing of what's to come. In fact, more than one point he keeps the reader from doing so. He will also note how easy it might have been for Nixon to avoid particular errors, and then move on to schedule other aspects of their remarkable Scrupulously fair. Ambrose stops to interpret but does so evenhandedly. He will often interpret Nixon's attitude or action is about average for his time and place. He will pause to draw attention to Nixon's notable accomplishments without drowning them in foreshadowing of what's to come. In fact, more than one point he keeps the reader from doing so. He will also note how easy it might have been for Nixon to avoid particular errors, and then move on to schedule other aspects of their remarkable rise. Probably the most insightful section was the one in which Ambrose paused to consider what a Nixon presidency beginning in 1960 would have been like as compared to 1968. Both the country and its president had less grounds for suspicion of the earlier juncture.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    ''On January 20, 1961, the Eisenhower Administration handed over the office of the Presidency to the Kennedy Administration. After the inaugural ceremonies, the Nixons attended a farewell lunch for Ike and Mamie. Nixon had the use of his official car and chauffeur until midnight. During that evening, he had his driver take him around the city. No one noticed as he drove past the White House. He went on to the capitol. On the balcony, he looked over Washington. The Democrats, dancing at their var ''On January 20, 1961, the Eisenhower Administration handed over the office of the Presidency to the Kennedy Administration. After the inaugural ceremonies, the Nixons attended a farewell lunch for Ike and Mamie. Nixon had the use of his official car and chauffeur until midnight. During that evening, he had his driver take him around the city. No one noticed as he drove past the White House. He went on to the capitol. On the balcony, he looked over Washington. The Democrats, dancing at their various balls all over town, may have thought that they had finally and forever rid themselves of Dick Nixon, but he thought that someday he would come back.'' I've always wanted to read Stephen Ambrose's 3 volume biography of Nixon because whenever I read about US presidents from 1953 to today, it is often quoted by great historians. For one, it is richly detailed and well researched. The author seems to make great use of all types of sources ranging from major news outlets, prior Nixon biographies, national archives material and ''Six crises'', the now famous book RN wrote after his 1960 campaign. He is really talented at introducing supporting characters as Nixon's career progress in time with a keen eye on their relevancy in the upcoming volumes. It is worth nothing that Ambrose wrote a 2 volume biography of Dwight Eisenhower prior to this project and admitted he never admired Nixon. Nevertheless I found Volume 1 well balanced and fascinating. The narrative starts with Nixon's family history and ends with the infamous press conference he gave in 1962 when he lost the election for governor of California to Brown. There is also a chapter off the regular Nixon's life timeline. It's an interesting assessment of Nixon's time in the Eisenhower administration. Ambrose gives his thoughts on what RN accomplished (and did not) in a position completely useless in normal times. He also speculate about how different a 1961 Nixon would have been as opposed to 1969. I personally enjoyed the account of his trip to South America where he was attacked in Peru and Venezuela. It reveals a lot about his personality. Can't wait to start Volume 2

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Million

    Very enjoyable and highly readable account of Richard Nixon from birth up to his ill-fated attempt to become Governor of California in 1962. I enjoy reading Ambrose, yet I am aware of the plagiarism accusations against him over the years, and how thin his footnotes and sources sometimes appear to be. He is not on the same level as a Caro, Chernow, or a McCullough. The writing is not quite as crisp, and his analysis lacks the intense and exhausting focus that those biographers so readily provide. Very enjoyable and highly readable account of Richard Nixon from birth up to his ill-fated attempt to become Governor of California in 1962. I enjoy reading Ambrose, yet I am aware of the plagiarism accusations against him over the years, and how thin his footnotes and sources sometimes appear to be. He is not on the same level as a Caro, Chernow, or a McCullough. The writing is not quite as crisp, and his analysis lacks the intense and exhausting focus that those biographers so readily provide. Also, there were several typos in the book - but I put those more on the editor than on Ambrose. Nonetheless, Ambrose said he was in the business to tell stories, and he tells a good one of the rise of Nixon. He covers all of the major early points in Nixon's life: the loneliness, the almost monk-like life at Duke, the smear campaigns of 1946 and 1950, the Hiss case, the Checkers speech, the eight years as Vice-President, the grueling and razor-thin election of 1960, and his disastrous campaign in 1962 for California Governor. Ambrose is especially strong in discussing Nixon's complicated and always strained relationship with Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower, I think, bears more of the responsibility for that than Nixon does as he continually held Nixon at arm's-length, and refused to ever be warm towards him. Of course, Nixon was temperamentally much different from Eisenhower, but still Ike could have done any number of things to make things smoother between the two of them. Even though Ambrose admires Nixon's intelligence and drive, and clearly respects him for those attributes, he does not hesitate to criticize him - especially concerning his treatment of his wife, Pat. Ambrose notes that, at times, he was borderline cruel towards her, displaying next to no warmth in public for her, continually breaking promises to get out of politics or be home more, and cancelling vacations. It is a wonder that she put up with all of it as she just wanted to lead a quiet, relatively normal life. Overall, I liked Ambrose's balanced approach to Nixon. However, I did notice some things where, again possibly due to poor research or his seeming determination to publish as many books as possible, he was off the mark. First, after providing a good analysis of Nixon's failure to develop close, personal friends throughout his life, he makes a comment about Nixon talking to a "close friend." Second, when talking about Nixon serving on HUAC in 1948, Ambrose correctly mentions that almost everyone thought that Dewey would defeat Truman that year. Yet, shortly after he says this, he comments that the members of HUAC were highly concerned about doing as much as possible before the election because they were fearful of Truman winning and bringing a Democratic majority with him to Congress. Third, Ambrose states that Eisenhower, if not for the 22nd Amendment barring Presidents from being elected to more than two terms, would have certainly ran for a third term in 1960 as he liked the job and was afraid about what was going to happen to the country under either Nixon or Kennedy. I find this highly dubious: Eisenhower was 70 years old then, had suffered a heart attack, an ileitis operation, and a stroke all within the previous five years. The presidency was ruining his health, and he knew it. Of course he didn't want to give up power, but really he would have had to anyways regardless of the Amendment. Grade: B

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul Wilson

    Don't know if it speaks to the effectiveness of this book, or a personal defect, but I found this 700 page analytical Nixon biography a real page-turner! The first volume in Ambrose's trilogy primarily covers Nixon's vice presidency under Eisenhower -- a relationship that was...quite strained. It was quite effective in outlining how and why Nixon became one of the most polarizing politicians in history, with Republicans loving him and Democrats loathing him. Truman HATED Nixon after making a spe Don't know if it speaks to the effectiveness of this book, or a personal defect, but I found this 700 page analytical Nixon biography a real page-turner! The first volume in Ambrose's trilogy primarily covers Nixon's vice presidency under Eisenhower -- a relationship that was...quite strained. It was quite effective in outlining how and why Nixon became one of the most polarizing politicians in history, with Republicans loving him and Democrats loathing him. Truman HATED Nixon after making a speech that inferred Truman was a traitor, and Truman took great pleasure in blasting Nixon on the campaign trail for the rest of his life. In reading about Nixon's personality flaws (extreme introversion, thin-skinned nature, and hot temper), you realize that "politician" is about the last vocation Nixon should have undertaken. He would have been a great consultant, but he should have left politicking to more...stable individuals. Already have volume 2 on the way!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2018... Published in 1987, “Nixon: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962” is the first volume in Stephen Ambrose’s well-regarded series on Richard Nixon. Ambrose was a historian and the author of more than two-dozen books. He remains one of the best-known biographers of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon but numerous allegations of plagiarism and exaggeration have tarnished his reputation. Ambrose died in 2002 at the age of sixty-six. This 674-page introductory https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2018... Published in 1987, “Nixon: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962” is the first volume in Stephen Ambrose’s well-regarded series on Richard Nixon. Ambrose was a historian and the author of more than two-dozen books. He remains one of the best-known biographers of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon but numerous allegations of plagiarism and exaggeration have tarnished his reputation. Ambrose died in 2002 at the age of sixty-six. This 674-page introductory volume covers Nixon’s life up through his unsuccessful attempt to become governor of California in 1962. The volume is well-paced, very well-organized, and written in an extremely straightforward and comprehensible style. And where most of Nixon’s biographers seem to adopt a “love him or hate him” attitude, Ambrose approaches his subject with remarkable balance. Although this biography provides significantly more insight into Nixon’s early life than the single-volume biographies of Nixon I’ve read, it is far less detailed than Roger Morris’s “Richard Milhous Nixon: The Rise of An American Politician” – the first installment in Morris’s never-completed series on Nixon. Where Morris spends 250 pages reviewing Nixon’s role in the Alger Hiss case, for example, Ambrose only needs about forty pages. Still, Ambrose is a good storyteller and misses very ittle of importance in Nixon’s life. And while the book is not exceptional in many ways, it is consistently solid. Nearly every important topic or moment is well-described, and several are particularly insightful or captivating. Among this book’s best moments are the description of Nixon’s rapidly growing proficiency at poker during World War II, the review of Nixon’s first term as a Congressman (perhaps the clearest and most colorful summary of this period that I’ve read) and the discussion of the 1952 national campaign when Nixon ran as Eisenhower’s vice presidential candidate. Ambrose also does an excellent job comparing and contrasting Nixon and John F. Kennedy while discussing the presidential campaign of 1960. It is unsurprising that the future president is afforded a position of prominence in the narrative. But through this author’s lens, Vice President Nixon seems far more vital to (and active within) the Eisenhower administration than seems to have really been the case. And although I always enjoy reading a biographer’s personal perspective on his or her subject (particularly when it is presented as opinion rather than being treated as fact) the chapter assessing Nixon’s vice presidency seems forced and unnatural. Finally, Ambrose’s focus on Nixon’s family is disappointingly uneven. While his wife appears frequently in the narrative, she always appears as a subservient housewife and mother whose motivations for marrying Nixon are never clear. Readers will miss that she was an intelligent and well-educated woman who set aside her own ambitions for her husband’s career. Overall, “Nixon: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962” provides a straightforward, balanced and interesting introduction to Richard Nixon. Although Ambrose does not write with the elegance or sophistication of the very best biographers – and in spite of his tarnished reputation as an author and historian – this volume remains the standard introduction to Richard Nixon for good reason. Overall rating: 3¾ stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    Ambrose gives a very good, fair-minded view of Nixon. While he clearly doesn't like Nixon, he does respect him (though this volume doesn't cover Watergate). One thing that was interesting to learn was that Nixon stood up for civil rights even when his own party wished he didn't. Quotes: The first group claimed that he made up his mind on the basis of what was good for the country, and that changing circumstances caused his changes of mind. The second group charged that he made up his mind on the Ambrose gives a very good, fair-minded view of Nixon. While he clearly doesn't like Nixon, he does respect him (though this volume doesn't cover Watergate). One thing that was interesting to learn was that Nixon stood up for civil rights even when his own party wished he didn't. Quotes: The first group claimed that he made up his mind on the basis of what was good for the country, and that changing circumstances caused his changes of mind. The second group charged that he made up his mind on the basis of what was good for Richard Nixon, and that he changed his mind as a part of his constant pursuit of the Presidency. But whether circumstances forced Nixon's hand or not, there is no question that he was statesmanlike in defeat. Nor is there any question that this was his finest campaign. If he was on occasion extreme, and even irresponsible on the Cold War, if he was guilty of pitching his campaign on the issue of who would be tougher on the Communists instead of who would be most capable of finding a way to live with them in peace without surrender, he was no more so than Kennedy. Kennedy also exaggerated the so-called “missile gap.” On such issues as race, religion, or bringing Joe Kennedy's or Jack's girl friends into the campaign, Nixon was a model of propriety and statesmanship. To millions of Americans, including at that time this author, the man seemed utterly insincere. We believed that everything he did was coldly calculated, the opposite of spontaneous, unrelated to any interest other than Richard Nixon's own. His motives were always the lowest. Everything he did was a put-on. We could see nothing good in him whatsoever. His face on the television screen filled us with fear and loathing. Racial, religious, and class divisions are the oldest and deepest in any society, which is why they have been the classic issue for demagogues everywhere. Nixon was no demagogue. He attacked philosophical and political enemies, not Negroes, union men, or Catholics

  7. 4 out of 5

    Clem

    I seem to be subconsciously drawn towards presidential biographies that need to be told over multiple volumes. In the past year, I’ve read four books detailing the life of Lyndon Johnson (the fifth hasn’t been written yet), as well as the Edmund Morris trilogy on the life of Theodore Roosevelt. So I guess it shouldn’t really surprise me, that when I wanted to read about Richard Nixon, I would somehow get sucked into another multi-volume chronology. Perhaps it was because these works by Nixon wer I seem to be subconsciously drawn towards presidential biographies that need to be told over multiple volumes. In the past year, I’ve read four books detailing the life of Lyndon Johnson (the fifth hasn’t been written yet), as well as the Edmund Morris trilogy on the life of Theodore Roosevelt. So I guess it shouldn’t really surprise me, that when I wanted to read about Richard Nixon, I would somehow get sucked into another multi-volume chronology. Perhaps it was because these works by Nixon were penned by Stephen Ambrose - an author who I have not read yet, but know by reputation. Safe to say that Mr. Ambrose deserves his reputation. This book was excellent, and I’m eagerly waiting to finish, not only the other two retrospectives on Nixon, but many of Ambrose’s other works as well. Perhaps one of the best things I enjoyed about Ambrose’s writing, is his ability to be somewhat succinct. He never babbles on uncontrollably over details. Whereas the Lyndon Johnson biographer, Robert Caro, would spend pages just describing LBJ’s grandparent’s facial features or the texture of the grass in Central Texas, Ambrose seems to give you just about the right information that you need to paint a good, overall picture of the settings, and then move on. This is not only true when discussing the subject’s upbringing and background, but also when he is in the thick of important politics. A perfect example that comes to mind is that the LBJ story spent probably over 100 pages discussing the intricacies of the emasculated Civil Rights Bill of 1957, whereas Ambrose seems to cover it (very well) in only a few paragraphs. After reading the first volume of the future President Richard M. Nixon, I’m left with two overall impressions of this man: He was a very hard working, honest, sincere man, that wanted to do an enormous amount of good for his country. -and- 2. He was a ruthless politician. You might then ask, how can a “ruthless” politician have ascended as quickly as Nixon did in his rise to become one of the youngest Vice-Presidents in history? Short answer: see #1 above. More on that later. The book, fortunately, does not go into too much detail of Nixon’s upbringing. There’s not much in the early chapters that we don’t already know. He was raised in a very poor environment, by tough, but sincere Quakers. He lost two of his four siblings to disease at a very young age, and worked very hard throughout his studies as a young man. Although he was well respected by being such a smart, articulate young man in school, his peers found him aloof, odd, awkward, and simply not very sociable. He rarely ever had a “good time” as young kids are prone to chase, and his early nickname was “Gloomy Gus”. He seemed to never have any interest in dating either. It’s almost a miracle that he hooked up with beautiful future-wife Pat when he did. You have to wonder what she ever saw in this man. Of his awkwardness, the Martha Mitchell character in the Oliver Stone movie seemed to sum it up best when she said to him “Your smile and your face never seem to be in the same room at the same time”. (Whether or not the real Martha Mitchell actually said this, I have no idea) The fact that his personality was so dry, was probably the reason why he was accused of playing dirty politics. I never found his accusations to be any worse than any of his contemporaries, but perhaps if these zingers had come from someone a bit more charismatic and likable, they never would have stung his opponents as strongly as they did. Needless to say, as much as many loved this man, there were many who hated him throughout his political life for this very reason. As mentioned, he moved up the political ladder very quickly. The first time he ran for congress, he handily beat incumbent Jerry Voohris. The very next election, he plowed into his first Senate race against the very popular (and very beautiful) Helen Gahagan Douglas. He easily won that election as well. Then, a mere two years later, he was selected by General Dwight Eisenhower to be his running mate as Vice President. It’s not really that difficult to see why. Without going into too many details, Nixon was rallying up a frenzy during the communist scare of the post World War II era, eventually bringing the spy Alger Hiss to justice. He was seen as a young hero by so many at the time. Fortunately, contrary to what many post historians believe, Nixon was smart enough to distance himself from some of the wackos such as Joseph McCarthy that managed to create undue hysteria during the “red scare” error. So Nixon seemed to be a great choice for Ike. Now, it should be mentioned that author Stephen Ambrose has written several biographies about the life of Dwight Eisenhower, so it times, it seems like strays a bit too far from his main subject here, and focuses too much on Nixon’s boss. However, upon closer examination, such a digression is necessary as Eisenhower was, without really knowing it, a huge factor in the successes and failures of Richard Nixon in the years to follow. We must remember that Dwight Eisenhower was the biggest war hero on the planet in 1952 (yes, bigger than Douglas MacArthur). So when rumors started to swirl that he might run for the highest office in the country, people were already sold on him. For awhile, nobody even knew whether he would run as a Democrat or a Republican. It simply wouldn’t have mattered. Ike was Ike - and he was liked. This actually gave Eisenhower a huge advantage over any of his contemporaries, because he never had to pander to any of the political demagogues. He could get away with saying whatever he wanted, and people ate it up. Example: He “got credit” for ending the Korean War in 1953, yet his policies were identical to his successor, Harry Truman’s. The difference? People loved Ike, and they were ready to drink whatever kool-aid he served them. Truman, like 99% of any other politician that ever lived, was loved by most in his own party, yet hated by most who were not. So whereas all this was a tremendous advantage for the former D-Day hero, it didn’t help Nixon in the slightest. Ike actually had Nixon do a lot of his politicking for him, so Nixon would say what needed to be said, yet people who disagreed with the administration, would usually find a scapegoat in Nixon. Then, when 1956 came around, Ike thought of dropping Nixon from the ticket. It wasn’t that he disapproved of the job that he was doing, but he felt Nixon would gain more experience with a Cabinet position. Although in theory, Eisenhower was right (a VP is a pretty worthless job), it would have been political suicide for Nixon had this happened in any shape or form. So Nixon proceeds to be, arguably, the greatest Vice-President ever. Obviously, he’s the front-runner to run against John F. Kennedy in 1960, yet sadly, Eisenhower does absolutely nothing to help his second-in-command. What makes things even more difficult is that Nixon and Kennedy seem to have so many of the same ideas, beliefs and solutions for the country. Difficult because even though Nixon shares Kennedy’s ideals, Eisenhower does not. So during the campaign, Nixon can’t say such things publicly. Oh politics! Well, during the 1960 presidential race, anything and everything that can go wrong for Nixon does. Had these events happened to anyone else, Kennedy would have whipped his opponent in a landslide. Instead, Nixon ends up with half the country’s votes. How he pulled this off with all of the turmoil is amazing. Not to mention most historians believe the election was actually stolen for Kennedy by some of his shadier supporters. It probably would have been best had this first volume ended after the 1960 election, but the book continues as Nixon tries to go back to “normal” life in his home state of California. He quickly gets sucked in to running for Governor against popular incumbent Pat Brown in the 1962 election, and, again, everything goes wrong for Nixon. Unlike 1960, these mishaps can only be blamed on Nixon himself. Nixon tries to run for Governor like he ran for President and he ends up looking like a proverbial bull in a china shop. He simply needed to tone down his rhetoric to have any effect, and he ends up miscalculating in a very bad way. Not to mention that more and more people simply dislike the man by now. At the conclusion of the race, his infamous concession speech tells the reporters that he’s gone and they “won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”. Of course, those in the know simply knew he would be back, it was just a question of when. And that’s where the first volume ends. This was an incredibly satisfying read, and I was pleased to find out that the author was not a fan of Nixon when he set out to write his series of biographies. Yet the tone is never malicious. You end up liking Nixon to some extent, and you actually feel sorry for the man knowing his eventual outcome. Had his face and his smile simply been in the same room at the same time, history would have probably been much different. And different for the better.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian Schwartz

    NIXON: THE EDUCATION OF A POLITICIAN leaves off as Nixon would enter what he would call “his time in the wilderness” nearly stealing fame for the phrase from Winston Churchill. Pat Nixon’s life is wedded nicely into this Nixon biography. She was an intelligent and insightful woman – far from the “Plastic Pat” that her detractors portrayed. She, like almost all women of her generation – stood behind her husband quietly. She was a doting mother who dedicated her public life to assuring her children NIXON: THE EDUCATION OF A POLITICIAN leaves off as Nixon would enter what he would call “his time in the wilderness” nearly stealing fame for the phrase from Winston Churchill. Pat Nixon’s life is wedded nicely into this Nixon biography. She was an intelligent and insightful woman – far from the “Plastic Pat” that her detractors portrayed. She, like almost all women of her generation – stood behind her husband quietly. She was a doting mother who dedicated her public life to assuring her children had something akin to a normal life. The Nixon marriage always seemed devoid of passion – or even genuinely caring. Nixon rarely put his arm around her in public, seldom danced with her in public, and never kissed her in public. He seldom acknowledged her in public. Yet she was fearlessly and faultlessly loyal to him and genuinely loved him. Those who knew him well (and few did) never questioned his love for her. By all accounts, Richard Nixon was a perfect husband. Nixon gets high marks as a father too. The greatest testament to one’s parenting skills is the affection returned by their children. Many bad homes produce “good” children. Few bad homes produce affectionate children. Nixon’s daughters, Tricia and Julie adored him as children, as teens, and as adults. No one ever questioned Dick Nixon the parent. He probably ranks highest among presidential parents for his parenting. Ambrose did not write this book as a Nixon admirer. He is up front about that. He never voted for Nixon. But he is fair to this most controversial of politicians – lauding his intellect, compassion in civil rights, and patriotism. He seldom is directly critical. Rather, he leads the reader there and leaves little room for the reader to disagree. Ambrose was not only a brilliant and insightful historian, he was a gifted writer in the same league as (although not quite as good) as David McCullough. He did not deserve the petty accusations of plagiarism that haunted his final days. Fortunately for those who truly appreciate this man’s contribution to our body of knowledge of our nation’s presidents, Ambrose will always be one of the icons.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Shields

    Not quite up to Caro standards, but very very good. 4.5 stars

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I love Stephen Ambrose but I knew he didn't vote for Nixon so I was a bit skeptical when I started reading this. I was pleasantly surprised at his objectivity and open-mindedness. He recognized that Nixon was actually very good in many ways and wasn't quite the "evil man" that many labeled him as after Watergate. Another interesting thing to note was how much the Republican and Democrat parties have changed. I was astonished to read on page 423 how the Democrats staunchly opposed allowing immigr I love Stephen Ambrose but I knew he didn't vote for Nixon so I was a bit skeptical when I started reading this. I was pleasantly surprised at his objectivity and open-mindedness. He recognized that Nixon was actually very good in many ways and wasn't quite the "evil man" that many labeled him as after Watergate. Another interesting thing to note was how much the Republican and Democrat parties have changed. I was astonished to read on page 423 how the Democrats staunchly opposed allowing immigrants into the country, crying "Don't let the barriers down!" Wow! Quite different from today. And how surprising to see Eisenhower, a Republican (the last president respected by both parties in my opinion) was so determined to have a balanced budget. The biggest spending bills in the history of our nation have been passed by a Republican congress. Fiscal conservatism is a thing of the past. What a shame. Both parties today want big government, they just fight over how to spend the money. Nixon was a good man, but not as personable as Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, who were and are masters at connecting with people. Unfortunately, Nixon peaked right when television came on the scene and appearance became everything. His dour personality didn't help him. Still, I'd gladly vote for him today if he was still around. Well-written book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Nixon was quite a guy. Brilliant politician (at least equal to LBJ in terms of moving issues through approval pathways) with almost total recall of anything he read. Preparation for tasks was meticulous and thorough. Unfortunately, he was incapable of trusting anyone resulting in micromanagement of everything and also incapable of forming close friendships. On the upside were his efforts in improving relations with Asia and China in particular. He was also a strong advocate for civil rights whic Nixon was quite a guy. Brilliant politician (at least equal to LBJ in terms of moving issues through approval pathways) with almost total recall of anything he read. Preparation for tasks was meticulous and thorough. Unfortunately, he was incapable of trusting anyone resulting in micromanagement of everything and also incapable of forming close friendships. On the upside were his efforts in improving relations with Asia and China in particular. He was also a strong advocate for civil rights which some may say was difficult in this era. A brute of a book, however, don't know if I'll tackle another one of these volumes in the near future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike Medeiros

    Considering this is my 11th Nixon ,or Nixon related book, you would think there isn't much left to learn. Well this almost 700 pp 1st volume of an Ambrose trilogy biography provides more detail of subjects and historical events related to Nixon as only an extensive edition as this can usually provide. Considering this is my 11th Nixon ,or Nixon related book, you would think there isn't much left to learn. Well this almost 700 pp 1st volume of an Ambrose trilogy biography provides more detail of subjects and historical events related to Nixon as only an extensive edition as this can usually provide.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris Schaffer

    A really excellent read. The book is well sequenced from the start of Nixon's life through to his loss in the race for Governor of California. Great stuff on the Hiss trial, Nixon's rise in congress and Republican politics. A really excellent read. The book is well sequenced from the start of Nixon's life through to his loss in the race for Governor of California. Great stuff on the Hiss trial, Nixon's rise in congress and Republican politics.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ernest H.

    A view point As a Canadian I don't like American politics but this is a well researched book and very readable. I still don't like your politics but I have a better understanding of it I A view point As a Canadian I don't like American politics but this is a well researched book and very readable. I still don't like your politics but I have a better understanding of it I

  15. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Huddleston

    A balanced review of Nixon’s life from birth to 1962. Ambrose intricately details the experiences that shaped the man Nixon into the political genius he became through victories, defeats, uncertainty, and seer will power to chart his political course.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Clark

    I read this through the Trump campaign and early months. I wonder how many places we will be able to substitute Trump for Nixon with proof?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Davino Nascimento

    Stephen Ambrose's three-volume biography of Nixon is very well written and superbly explains what made the man who brought us to Watergate. Stephen Ambrose's three-volume biography of Nixon is very well written and superbly explains what made the man who brought us to Watergate.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jim Gallen

    “Nixon: The Education Of A Politician 1913-1962” is the first volume in Stephen Ambrose’s comprehensive biography of Richard Nixon. This one takes Nixon from his birth to a farmer-gas station operator-grocer in Yorba Linda, California through his defeat for governor in 1962. Ambrose writes of the Nixon’s background, his Quaker mother who taught him Faith and pulled her whole family into the Republican Party and his father who always seemed to make the wrong choices in business. He tells of Nixon’ “Nixon: The Education Of A Politician 1913-1962” is the first volume in Stephen Ambrose’s comprehensive biography of Richard Nixon. This one takes Nixon from his birth to a farmer-gas station operator-grocer in Yorba Linda, California through his defeat for governor in 1962. Ambrose writes of the Nixon’s background, his Quaker mother who taught him Faith and pulled her whole family into the Republican Party and his father who always seemed to make the wrong choices in business. He tells of Nixon’s education where he was a serious student amongst other children who “didn’t smell good.” He brings out facts that molded Nixon’s character but are not widely known. Nixon declined scholarships to Harvard and Yale because he could not afford the living expenses, choosing Whittier College where he could live at home. When he got a scholarship to Duke University Law School it was a new institution, not the prestigious one it is today. It was there that he was introduced to the world outside of Southern California and learned to speak of “The War Between The States”, a term he used for life. Ambrose writes of the turning points in Nixon’s life, such as being turned down by New York law firms and the FBI, any of which could have kept him out of politics. We read of his courtship of and marriage to Pat, his naval service and entry into politics. Nixon’s political career began in 1946 with his election to the House of Representatives by defeating long time incumbent Jerry Voorhis in what Nixon’s critics term his first “dirty” campaign. From his position on the House Un-American Activities Committee he got involved in the investigation of Alger Hiss whose conviction made Nixon a national figure and propelled him to the Senate and the Vice-Presidency. The 1960 race for president and the 1962 race for governor are covered, although in a more cursory fashion than other books that focus exclusively on those races. Ambrose delves deeply into the complex relationship between Nixon and Eisenhower, an arrangement in which each used the other for his own ends. Ultimately it was a relationship in which Nixon needed Eisenhower, politically and emotionally, but Ike could have done without Nixon. Even more crucial is the relationship between Dick, Pat and their daughters. Pat is depicted as a woman who did not want to be a politician’s wife and who hoped he would retire in 1956 but who supported him and campaigned with him every time he made a decision to run. Dick’s public slights of her seem to be more due to inattention than lack of affection. Tricia is shown as the daughter who always wants to fight with and for her father. The family is portrayed as affectionate and loyal with Dick’s total dedication to politics as the main factor distinguishing this from a stereotypical American family of its era. I had heard that Stephen Ambrose did not like Richard Nixon so I was pleasantly surprised at the objective assessments made of Nixon and his career. Many events in Nixon’s career have elicited passionate enmity but Ambrose usually chose not to jump on the bandwagon, often concluding that Nixon was right. In his summaries, he concludes that Nixon divided people along party lines, but did not use race, class or religion as issues. He points out that Nixon was neither alone nor the first or last to use Communism as a political tool. He concluded that Nixon probably hurt Eisenhower in 1956, but ran well ahead of the party in 1960 despite his costly campaign mistakes. He described “Six Crises” as “a book written by a great man about small events” and ”the most visible Vice-President of the twentieth century, and the most successful.” I have a strong interest in Richard Nixon, partly because his triumph occurred as I was becoming politically of age and have read extensively about him. This is clearly the best book I have written about Nixon and one of, if not the, best biography I have ever read. I am looking forward to the next volume.

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Findlay

    This book was very informative about parts of Nixon's life that I knew little about. I have never read about his early life, his college days, or his early career as a Congressman and then a Senator. He was a fascinating man, albeit strange in many ways. Throughout his life he kept running for offices and getting elected, yet he never made any close friends. He comes across as the brooding loner that we remember from his latter days in the Presidency. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on his r This book was very informative about parts of Nixon's life that I knew little about. I have never read about his early life, his college days, or his early career as a Congressman and then a Senator. He was a fascinating man, albeit strange in many ways. Throughout his life he kept running for offices and getting elected, yet he never made any close friends. He comes across as the brooding loner that we remember from his latter days in the Presidency. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on his relationship with Eisenhower, and his time as Vice President. At times they seemed to get along well, but there was much that Ike could have done to help him and chose not to. I had not realized that Ike almost dumped him as VP for the second four years, preferring that he take a Cabinet position, probably to be Secretary of Defense. Ike often questioned his maturity. Yet Eisenhower used him as the hatchet man during campaigns, so that he could take the high road himself. Eisenhower made some statements during the campaign against JFK that hurt Nixon tremendously, such as asking for a week to remember some advice he had taken from Nixon. He also never gave Nixon the ringing endorsement that would have helped him. The section on the 1960 campaign was also illuminating. While Ambrose does point out some of the mistakes that Nixon made, and the stubbornness and refusal to take advice from others that hurt him, he also makes is clear that with a shift of just a few votes (such as in Cook County, IL, where many votes were questionable), we could be writing about what a great campaign Nixon ran. History is written by the victors. Nixon had some severe disadvantages in the election, including having to defend some Eisenhower positions that he disagreed with, and a surplus of registered Democrats, yet he ran well ahead of the Republican party. The theme of Nixon's political career seems to be anti-Communism, and he had many supporters on this topic. I was surprised that he was also relatively strong on civil rights, at least for that time in history. The book concludes with Nixon's ill-fated run for the Governorship of California, a position he wasn't sure he even wanted. Although he campaigned hard, his heart wasn't really in it. Looking ahead, he did NOT want to run for President again in 1964 when he figured JFK would be too popular to beat, and thought that being Governor of California could be a good excuse not to run. Ambrose very objectively points out all the contradictions in Nixon; a man who could run a nasty, dirty campaign, yet who might refuse to use religion as an argument in his run against JFK. I am very happy that I read this book, and can see portions of Nixon's personality in several more current politicians.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Fackler

    WWND. These wristbands were handed out sometime between 1913 and 1962. Nixon both acknowledged their existence and disavowed their relationship to himself. Livestrong was his motto. He was in it for the people, but personally he felt that the people were confused. This was the fault of the media; which was liberal. He knew that they, the Liberal Media, would be sad when he, Nixon, left. So he didn't leave. He loved the Liberal Media. He hated the confusion they sowed by stripping Facts of their WWND. These wristbands were handed out sometime between 1913 and 1962. Nixon both acknowledged their existence and disavowed their relationship to himself. Livestrong was his motto. He was in it for the people, but personally he felt that the people were confused. This was the fault of the media; which was liberal. He knew that they, the Liberal Media, would be sad when he, Nixon, left. So he didn't leave. He loved the Liberal Media. He hated the confusion they sowed by stripping Facts of their capitalization. He wished the people could see the Facts etched in his brain. He hated Communists. He could never bring himself to hug one; even in the kitchen. He hated Alger Hiss. He wished that Harry Truman could understand what he, Nixon, meant by treason. He thought fondly of Joe McCarthy and wrote him haiku, but this undermined their relationship creating a situation where Nixon's own inflexible subtlety kept him from resolving the splits between the more and less vociferous in his Party. He wished Eisenhower would love him for his subtle flexibility. He, Eisenhower, didn't. He thought Nixon was a spoiled brat, but still took him golfing. This kept Nixon from exploding, but he still cramped up at times. Nixon loved his family. He should have spent more time with them, but he couldn't because he was a very hard worker and wasn't supposed to bring work home. He respected his family very much, but very hard work sometimes makes it very hard to see how very hard balancing the personal and the public can be. Nixon was a politician. You should read this book because not everything I have said here is a lie. Lastly, Nixon didn't want to be governor of California anyway. PS: This book was more interesting than this review. On to volume two.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tim Gause

    Well written bio. It gave more respect for Nixon and his humble beginnings. It also left me wondering what has happened to the modern Republican Party. You really begin to see just how far to the right it has moved; and makes me wonder if Nixon would even be able to run as a Republican today. For example, Nixon was an early champion civil rights and was even praised by MLK for his efforts in this area. After I put this book down I was left with much more respect for Nixon and with a sense of sad Well written bio. It gave more respect for Nixon and his humble beginnings. It also left me wondering what has happened to the modern Republican Party. You really begin to see just how far to the right it has moved; and makes me wonder if Nixon would even be able to run as a Republican today. For example, Nixon was an early champion civil rights and was even praised by MLK for his efforts in this area. After I put this book down I was left with much more respect for Nixon and with a sense of sadness as well. Highly recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    This is a LONG, well written bio that I didn't finish. I'm ashamed to admit to that, but I was reading it on a Nook and I'm not a huge fan of electronic readers and it was taking SO very long to get through that I just gave up. Ambrose is pretty objective and I did learn a lot about Nixon that I never knew, about how he went to Duke Law School, about his involvement on the House Un-American Committee, about Alger Hiss, about his "dirty" political campaigns, etc. It's a good book really, but I ju This is a LONG, well written bio that I didn't finish. I'm ashamed to admit to that, but I was reading it on a Nook and I'm not a huge fan of electronic readers and it was taking SO very long to get through that I just gave up. Ambrose is pretty objective and I did learn a lot about Nixon that I never knew, about how he went to Duke Law School, about his involvement on the House Un-American Committee, about Alger Hiss, about his "dirty" political campaigns, etc. It's a good book really, but I just wish I had a paper copy to leaf through. No more long books for the Nook. Recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Well-written, thorough look at Richard Nixon. I'm curious to read the next volume as the beginnings of Richard Nixon being comfortable bending the rules to win at politics is there and being the hatchet man for his party was well established. But his strict Quaker background still makes his subsequent moves confusing. Well-written, thorough look at Richard Nixon. I'm curious to read the next volume as the beginnings of Richard Nixon being comfortable bending the rules to win at politics is there and being the hatchet man for his party was well established. But his strict Quaker background still makes his subsequent moves confusing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Steinhauser

    This biography of Richard Nixon is all about his life before the presidency. It's well written, interesting and somewhat favorable toward Nixon. I really enjoyed reading about his youth as well as his first campaigns for elected office. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in learning more about Nixon the man and Nixon the politician. This biography of Richard Nixon is all about his life before the presidency. It's well written, interesting and somewhat favorable toward Nixon. I really enjoyed reading about his youth as well as his first campaigns for elected office. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in learning more about Nixon the man and Nixon the politician.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Danmcgohan

    Another outstanding effort by Mr.Ambrose. His detailed description of Richard Nixon.s early life to his defeat in his run for governor of California in '62 is remarkable. I read this after reading his two volumes about Eisenhower. It is very interesting to view the same period of history from two viewpoints of some of the main participants. Stephen Ambrose has become one of favorite authors. Another outstanding effort by Mr.Ambrose. His detailed description of Richard Nixon.s early life to his defeat in his run for governor of California in '62 is remarkable. I read this after reading his two volumes about Eisenhower. It is very interesting to view the same period of history from two viewpoints of some of the main participants. Stephen Ambrose has become one of favorite authors.

  26. 5 out of 5

    James W. Ewing

    Thoroughness in detail, fairness in perspective, and entertaining in reading. A fresh approach to an era which set the stage for major cultural shifts in 21st century. Recommend this to those born in the past 30 years. Historical corrective to a major controversial figure who created intense emotional arousal.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bill Ashcraft

    Ambrose was a great historian, and does a not so easy task: He writes a book that is general down the middle about Richard Nixon. Ambrose later said that he actually came to like the man and respect him, saying later that we lost more than we gained when Nixon resigned.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Frankel

    Great Read. Ambrose is very even-handed in his bio of Nixon. I did not know anything about Nixon's early years (only W-gate and on) and got new perspective on that time and when some of the Watergate players began to join the Nixon staff. Look forward to reading Vol 2 (1962-72) Great Read. Ambrose is very even-handed in his bio of Nixon. I did not know anything about Nixon's early years (only W-gate and on) and got new perspective on that time and when some of the Watergate players began to join the Nixon staff. Look forward to reading Vol 2 (1962-72)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Clayton Brannon

    For those who want to know more about who Richard Nixon was then this is a great start. Volume 1 of a three volume set. I truly look forward to the next book on Nixon's life. One of the most controversial Presidents we have ever had. For those who want to know more about who Richard Nixon was then this is a great start. Volume 1 of a three volume set. I truly look forward to the next book on Nixon's life. One of the most controversial Presidents we have ever had.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Readable biography, part one of three. Author has a (shares my) liberal bias but it's pretty easy to set aside the few commentary statements and stick with the story. Nixon is a fascinating man. Readable biography, part one of three. Author has a (shares my) liberal bias but it's pretty easy to set aside the few commentary statements and stick with the story. Nixon is a fascinating man.

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