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Richard Nixon: The Life Hardcover – March 28, 2017
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“Beautifully written and deeply insightful . . . A bracing portrait of a man untethered from principle and ideology, driven throughout his life to win at any cost and thereby palliate his deep-seated insecurities . . . Nixon was not an easy man to understand. And even now, his failures and accomplishments are not easy to classify. In Farrell’s capable hands, however, we see Nixon in his entirety—and we can’t help but wonder what he means for our politics today.”
—William Howell, San Francisco Chronicle
"[Nixon is] an electrifying subject, a muttering Lear, of perennial interest to anyone with even an average curiosity about politics or psychology. The real test of a good Nixon biography, given how many there are, is far simpler: Is it elegantly written? And, even more important, can it tolerate paradoxes and complexity, the spikier stuff that distinguishes real-life sinners from comic-book villains? The answer, in the case of Richard Nixon, is yes, on both counts.”
—Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
“A stack of good books about Nixon could reach the ceiling, but Farrell has written the best one-volume, cradle-to-grave biography that we could expect about such a famously elusive subject. By employing recently released government documents and oral histories, he adds layers of understanding to a complex man and his dastardly decisions . . . Outstanding.”
—Aram Goudsouzian, Washington Post
"With a mix of morbid fascination and deep empathy, Farrell humanizes Nixon, but he doesn't let him off the hook . . . The dichotomy between brooding schemer and extroverted leader has long defined the Nixon dynamic. But with Richard Nixon, Farrell has etched those history-shaking contradictions into the most vivid—and the most startling—relief to date."
—Jason Heller, NPR.org
“An extremely valuable introduction to the life and times of one of our most consequential presidents. Farrell gives us a Nixon rich in both character flaws and great accomplishments, the latter fueled by his transformational vision. It’s a worthy look at a fascinating president.”
—Ray Locker, USA Today
“Though there have been many previous books about Nixon, Mr. Farrell’s comprehensive, one-volume biography is welcome . . . In lively, vigorous prose, he takes readers through Nixon’s career, offering incisive judgments and revealing details along the way.”
—Robert K. Landers, Wall Street Journal
“Superb . . . the most formidable attempt yet made to put Richard Nixon in perspective.”
—Steve Donoghue, Christian Science Monitor
“Farrell is an exceptional writer . . . It may not have been Farrell’s intent to produce a cautionary tale about the dangers of a presidency run aground on lies, paranoia, prejudices, and delusion, but that’s what he’s accomplished.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Farrell’s blockbuster portrait of Nixon is revelatory—filled with fresh reporting shedding new light on the roots of our own dark political moment. He shows that dirty tricks, October Surprises, and anti-elitist resentment were among the gifts Nixon bequeathed to our own presidential politics.”
—Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
“John A. Farrell has once again delivered a rich, precisely written portrait of the past to help us understand the present. He traces the origins and turning points of one of the most complex, complicated and fascinating presidents of the modern age with flair and narrative skill. Each page is a joy to read, on the way to a very satisfying whole.”
—John Dickerson, moderator of CBS’s Face the Nation and author of Whistlestop
“Brilliant, ruthless, a president who combined some enlightened policies with inner darkness, Richard Nixon stands alone in the history of American politics. John A. Farrell’s gripping account vividly captures Nixon from his earliest days—catapulting to Congress with a cold-blooded debate stunt—to the mounting crises he faced in the White House, culminating in his spectacular fall.”
—T.J. Stiles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Custer’s Trials and The First Tycoon
“In Richard Nixon, John A. Farrell is tough and unyielding, yet gives his subject a fair hearing through each gripping episode. ‘I’m not a quitter,’ Nixon once protested, and this grand, indispensable book proves him right, right to the end.”
—Chris Matthews, author of Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Post-war America
“Jack Farrell gives us two profoundly resonant Richard Nixons—the last progressive Republican, and the author of our national divisions. He also gives us, in one engrossing volume, the defining biography of our darkest president.”
—Larry Tye, author of Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon
“With clarity and verve, John A. Farrell’s deft pen illuminates the life of America’s 37th president. Unsparing yet fair-minded in its analysis and based on deep research in a wealth of archival and published sources, Richard Nixon is a fast-moving and penetrating portrait of this controversial and complicated man.”
—Fredrik Logevall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Embers of War
“John A. Farrell's Richard Nixon: The Life is an expertly written and strikingly comprehensive portrait of America's most complicated president. Farrell has a genius for the telling anecdote and apropos quote. His command of the sources is staggering. Richard Nixon is a true landmark achievement.”
—Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of Cronkite
“Full of fresh, endlessly revealing insights into Nixon’s political career, less on the matter of his character, refreshingly, than on the events that accompanied and resulted from it.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A probing biography . . . Readers track the lonely and hard-won ascent of a sickly, love-starved child, who dreams like a Romantic but maneuvers like Machiavelli . . . An unflinching portrait.”
—Booklist, starred review
About the Author
JOHN A. FARRELL is the author of Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, and Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century. A longtime journalist, he worked at The Denver Post and at The Boston Globe, where he served as White House correspondent and on the vaunted Spotlight team.
Top customer reviews
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What the author John A. Farrell brings to the table is what made Richard Nixon tick. As the author explains in most of the scenarious of Nixon is that he was always paranoic and was not always outgoing and when things were not going his way he would be withdrawn and hence paranoic. We see a highly intelligent person who at times was very unsure of himself. Not being able to attend the elite universities on the East Coast not for lack of intelligence but for the lack of money.
Nixon was persuaded to enter politics in California as a U.S. congressman in 1946 and as they say the rest is history. Farrell details the Senate Race of 1950 Presidential election of 1952 earmarks his political successes as a young man. His dealing is masterfully detailed as to how Nixon proceeded in the Alger Hiss hearings. The author shows to us the first scandal that Nixon had to deal with when he was questioned on his financial dealings in the 1962 Presidential campaign. It shows a young Nixon utilizing the media of TV to give his famous Checker’s speech and redeeming himself on national TV.
Farrell shows an in depth look at Nixon’s relationship with Eisenhower. Not in all circumstances did Ike get along with his Vice President. Onto the 1960 Presidential election when the political fortunes of Dick Nixon began to change. With that Presidential loss came his loss in the 1962 California election. From there the author details Nixon’s political comeback. The triumph of the 1968 election and the landslide of 1972 election gave Nixon his nadir in the political arena.
With that said the tragedy of Watergate is discussed and shows to us an intelligent man who was quite excellent in dealing in foreign affairs but could not handle his paranoiac behavior and thus led him obstruct justice to the point that I actually felt sorry for Nixon.
That one caveat aside, I think this book is worth the time of those interested in Nixon, the Presidents, or the 20th century in general.
Most recent customer reviews
Written with honesty with no indication of pro or anti bias towards his views and actions.