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Nixon in New York
How Wall Street Helped Richard Nixon Win the White House. Law, Culture, and the Humanities Series
Richard Nixon's loss in the 1962 gubernatorial election in California was more than just a simple electoral defeat. His once-promising political career was in ruins as he dropped his second high-profile race in as many years. Nixon, himself, rubbed salt in his own self-inflicted wounds by delivering a growling, bitter concession speech that made him seem like a sore loser. In the months following his defeat and self-immolation, he left California to move to New York so that he could work for a prestigious Wall Street law firm. His new career only seemed to confirm what everyone already knew: Richard Nixon was finished as a politician.
Except, he wasn't. Nixon's political resurrection was virtually unprecedented in American history role, and he had his law firm to thank for paving his way to the White House. His role as public partner at Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander was the ideal platform for him as he looked to reinvent himself after his back-to-back losses in 1960 and 1962. Nixon's firm gave him access to deep-pocketed clients, many of whom became donors when he decided to take the plunge in 1968. Furthermore, working for so many international clients allowed him to travel the world and burnish his foreign policy credentials - a vital quality that voters were looking for as the Cold War raged on and the Vietnam War showed no signs of slowing down. Nixon's time at the firm also allowed him to build a formidable campaign staff consisting of top-notch lawyers, researchers and writers - a staff that did just about everything for him when it came time to ramp up for the 1968 campaign.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
After losing the California governor's race in 1962, Nixon announced the end of his political career, and he accepted a partnership in a prestigious New York City law firm. He became a valuable rainmaker for the firm, and he used his position to reconstitute his political base with wealthy contributors, a deep and talented campaign staff, and enhanced international experience. This culminated in his victory in the 1968 presidential campaign. The assistant managing editor of the American Bar Association's trade journal, Li provides an excellent, straightforward narrative of how this transpired. The author places these transformational years within a quick survey of Nixon's prior political career and a brief overview of his two administrations. The consistency of Nixon's talents and flaws is evident in each phase of his career. The final chapter treats former colleagues and legal issues of the firm during Nixon's presidency. The epilogue touches on recent presidential players' engagements with prestigious law firms. Although this focused and manageable account relies more on interviews and printed sources than on extensive archival research, it deserves consideration in competition with John Farrell's or Evan Thomas's recent, massive Nixon biographies.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. * CHOICE * Victor Li's "Nixon in New York: How Wall Street Helped Richard Nixon Win the White House" illuminates Richard Nixon's crucially important "wilderness years" as a Wall Street lawyer. Li provides new insight and understanding OF this period, from Nixon's crushing 1962 defeat in the campaign to become governor of California - "You won't have me to kick around anymore" - to his successful bid for the presidency in 1968. Well-researched and illuminating. -- Thomas Byrne Edsall, NY Times columnist and professor at Columbia University School of Journalism