This second volume of Ambrose's biography begins with Nixon's drive to the presidency, which began, in the author's view, on November 7, 1962, with the ``You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore'' press conference following his failure to be elected governor of California. Ambrose describes the successful 1968 presidential campaign against Hubert Humphrey, Nixon's first term in the White House and the 1972 campaign against George McGovern, which concluded with his stunning reelection margin. ``I confess,'' the author writes disarmingly, ``that I do not understand this complex man.'' It is unduly modest of Ambrose, for he offers a more rounded and detailed view of Richard M. Nixon--his instinctive reactions, patterns of thought, prejudices, convictions and accomplishments--than has yet been published. His account of Nixon's first term in office includes a thorough analysis of the president's efforts to end the war in Vietnam, his reestablishment of Sino-American relations, his authorship of detente with the Soviet Union and the start of arms control. Nixon's less successful domestic battles are covered in depth, with emphasis on his inability to work with Congress. Ambrose has turned up fresh material about the origins of the Watergate scandal, and describes how Nixon contrived to delay the crisis until after his reelection. Photos. (Oct.)
It was clear with the first of these projected three volumes ( Nixon: The Education of a Politician, 1913-1962 , LJ 5/1/87, an LJ ``Best Book of 1987'') that this will be the definitive Nixon political biography. This second volume covers ten of the most critical years of Nixon's career and is based upon the available written and spoken words of Nixon and his associates, a monumental body of material. Ambrose, an Eisenhower authority, makes a unique contribution in balancing Nixon's stunning political abilities and glaring personal deficiencies, noting the consequences for the country and its president. His is a captivating work, written with fairness and skill. No library should omit this from its collection.-- Susan E. Parker, Harvard Law Sch. Lib.