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Richard Nixon: the life


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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, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a Washington Post Rave of the Year. As a longtime journalist at The Boston Globe, he worked as White House correspondent, Washington editor, and investigative reporter on the vaunted Spotlight team. His award-winning portrait of Nixon was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography, and earned him the title of American Historian Laureate from the New York Historical Society.


'Prodigiously sourced and insightful ... [an] important and revealing biography.'

-- Jonathan Mirsky * The Spectator *

'[A] wonderful biography of America's most controversial 20th-century president ... a sharply observed but refreshingly uncensorious assessment.'

* New Statesman *

'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: my favorite stories from presidential campaign history

'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

'Written with skills he acquired as an investigative reporter, John Farrell's tour de force takes us through the rise and fall of Richard Nixon with penetrating and thought-provoking analysis.'

-- Irwin Gellman, author of The Contender: Richard Nixon, the congress years, 1946 to 1952 and The President and the Apprentice: Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952-1961

'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 manoeuvres like Machiavelli ... An unflinching portrait.'

-- Booklist, starred review

'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

'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

'Richard Nixon's political career has all the nooks and crannies of an English muffin: the red-baiting of the early campaigns; Checkers; the Great Debates of 1960; the comeback in '68; the inheritance and horror of Vietnam; the historic opening to China; the shame of Watergate. 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

'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

'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 ... Richard Nixon illuminates a man of sharp mind and soaring ambition. Farrell sympathizes with a boy who thought he was hard to love and compensated with an iron will. He understands Nixon's frustrations with the lack of respect for his accomplishments. But in the end, this portrait is more damning. His Nixon is doomed by his own insecurities, destroyed by his own treachery, damned by his own words ... [Nixon] stained his reputation and that of the presidency. As Farrell's outstanding biography reminds us, the consequences have endured.'

-- Aram Goudsouzian * Washington Post *

'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 has written a definitive biography. There was a lot more to Nixon than lies and bombast, and this nuanced book shows that.'

-- Harold Evans * The Week *

'[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 *

'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 *

'John Farrell's book now clearly stands as the best one-volume life of one of the century's most complex and compelling figures. It is a story that goes from bright promise into dark places, time and again punctures the lie that there are no second acts in American lives, but still exits into tragedy. It is one of the saddest biographies you will ever read.'

* The Herald *

'John A Farrell convincingly argues with great style and attention to detail.'

-- JP O'Malley * Sunday Independent *

'[A] highly readable tome.'

-- Peter Coaldrake, vice-chancellor and president, Queensland University of Technology

'A magisterial portrait of the man who embodied post-war American political cynicism - and was destroyed by it.'

* Irish Examiner *

'[Farrell] humanizes him with genuine empathy, but clearly demonstrates that Nixon's ultimate demise was the result of the deceit and corruption that he recklessly cultivated over decades.'

* Irish Examiner *

'An excellent book, thoughtful in approach, original in research, crisp in prose and definitive in conclusions.'

* Weekend Australian *

'Farrell's sense of narrative pacing is flawless.'

* TLS *
Praise for Clarence Darrow:

'This new biography is a balanced account of a complex man, written with a great gift of story-telling. It sets Darrow's battles in their rich historical setting, and brings him vividly to life. I hope that it helps keep alive the memory of a lawyer who, at his best, was a model for all lawyers to emulate.'

* Julian Burnside QC *
Praise for Clarence Darrow:

'His [Darrow's] life story was epic in its sweep and influence ... It is stirringly retold in Farrell's timely, balanced and important book.'

* Weekend Australian *
Praise for Clarence Darrow:

'It is almost impossible to conceive how so much living could have come in just one life, and Jack Farrell's masterful new biography makes Clarence Darrow come alive. This is a wonderful, at times heart-pounding story, which is told with precision, sympathy, and insight.'

* Ken Burns *

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