My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

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…

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