(Literary Masterpieces, Volume 17)

The autobiography begins with a properly short recollection of Nixon’s childhood experiences. It includes fond portraits of his father, a rough-and-tumble small businessman, and his mother and brothers. Next, Nixon describes his undergraduate days at Whittier College, acknowledging a few faculty members who influenced him, and recounting his fling at college football. His romance with Pat and their marriage is also recalled. After an equally brief treatment of his law school days and military service (with the Navy during World War II), Nixon begins his first lengthy section on his political career. Early nonpolitical experiences are given short coverage.

Nixon began his rise to power in California when he was elected to the United States Congress. He describes that initial campaign against Jerry Voorhis with cool detachment, including his first use of anti-Communism as a campaign issue. He then writes of his triumphs with the House Un-American Activities Committee during the early years of the Cold War. Particularly interesting is his account of the Committee’s attack on Alger Hiss, the alleged Communist in the State Department. The reader develops a definite feel for the Cold War years from this account by an insider. Again cooly, Nixon describes his Senate triumph over Helen Gahagan Douglas in a campaign that featured further use of the Communist issue. In his story of these early years, much of the Nixon style emerges. His use of Communism seems calculating and cool, yet not as undocumented as the later travesties of Joseph McCarthy. His constant appeal is to “the facts” as he sees them. His speeches are tough.

Next, Nixon describes his years as Vice-President during the Eisenhower Administration. Highlights include the “funding scandal” of 1952, his overseas trips (including the fabled riots against him in...

(The entire section is 755 words.)


(Literary Masterpieces, Volume 17)

Best Sellers. XXXVIII, October, 1978, p. 214.

Books and Bookmen. XXIII, August, 1978, p. 9.

Christian Century. XCV, September 13, 1978, p. 836.

Esquire. XC, August 1, 1978, p. 82.

Nation. CCXXVII, July 8, 1978, p. 53.

National Review. XXX, August 18, 1978, p. 1031.

Times Literary Supplement. July 7, 1978, p. 759.