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Nixon Volume I: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962

(Nixon #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  646 ratings  ·  35 reviews
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 life-size in all his complexity. Ambrose charts the peaks and valleys of Nixo ...more
ebook, 768 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by Simon Schuster (first published 1987)
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4.06  · 
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 ·  646 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
''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 ...more
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. ...more
Paul Wilson
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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.


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
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-presidents

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
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
Aaron Shields
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: presidents
Not quite up to Caro standards, but very very good. 4.5 stars
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Mike Medeiros
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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.
Shirley Clark
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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?
Jim Gallen
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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’
John Findlay
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Thomas Fackler
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Scott Holstad
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
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 ...more
Tim Gause
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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 ...more
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.
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.
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
James W. Ewing
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jonathan Frankel
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non
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.
Bill Ashcraft
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Clayton Brannon
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Did you know Nixon lived off the record in a shack in the woods while going to college? Neither did I. Fucking hell.
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well researched from beginning to end.An enjoyable read about a very complex leader,
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Stephen Edward Ambrose was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. He received his Ph.D. in 1960 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In his final years he faced charges of plagiarism for his books, with subsequent concerns about his research emerging after his death.

Other books in the series

Nixon (3 books)
  • Nixon Volume #2: The Triumph of a Politician 1962-1972
  • Nixon Volume #3: Ruin and Recovery 1973-1990