Early in this massive biography, Ambrose makes the ironic statement that, at 25, Nixon was considered to be so honest, scrupulous, and upright that had he opened a used-car lot, his peers would have flocked to buy cars from him. The statement captures the tone of this, the definitive biography of an enigma. Ambrose, whose career as a historian has seemed to gel in recent years as the primary biographer of Eisenhower, captures Nixon as a prisoner of ironies in this first of two volumes that takes us up to the "last press conference" after Nixon's 1962 California gubernatorial defeat. Nixon's rise was meteoric. (Consider the equivalent: a freshman representative entering Congress this year would be elected Vice-President in 1992!) But, as Ambrose shows, this was only typical. Within months of joining any organization, from grade school on, Nixon would so shine that he would be granted the presidency. It was only natural that he should consider the Vice-Presidency and Presidency as plausible career steps. But it wasn't just a matter of brutal ambition. Friends and enemies alike conceded that the man possessed a brilliant political mind. And this, in turn, was fed by a remarkable memory and sheer hard work (Nixon could go days without sleep in preparing for important trips or events). It was unfortunate for him that he had to ride the coattails of Eisenhower, whose feelings for Nixon were fatherly in the best and worst sense of the word. While grooming Nixon to take on the burdens of the Presidency, he never quite considered him mature enough. Nixon's tireless and great service to the Republican Party often irked Eisenhower, who cared not a whit for party affiliation. Ambrose brings out other ironies'. The supposed campaign of vilification against Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950, for instance, was actually begun by Douglas, who first tried to besmirch Nixon's voting record! And the conception of Nixon as an extreme right-winger depended too heavily on Nixon's partisan lambasting of Democrats who were "soft on Communism." Ambrose convincingly demonstrates that in domestic policies, Nixon was actually one of the more progressive Republicans of the 1950's, but he had to quell that spirit because of Eisenhower. Nixon's progressivism was particularly apparent in his promotion of black rights. In this regard, Martin Luther King, Jr., actually voted for the Eisenhower ticket in 1956 because of Nixon. Most previous biographies of Nixon have either been admiring political studies or hatchet jobs by obvious enemies. Ambrose rights both of their wrongs and gives us a wonderful preliminary to the final volume, which will chronicle Nixon's resurrection, triumph, and fall. Masterful biography.

Pub Date: April 1, 1987

ISBN: 0671654381

Page Count: 752

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1987

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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