Ambrose openly admits he was a Nixon-hater during the period covered by this book, and that he grudgingly changed his mind about him while researching and writing this and the other volumes of the trilogy. It pulls no punches,but is still a bit too concilliatory for my tastes.I,for one,would have no hesitation in describing Nixon's conduct in Vietnam and Cambodia as that of a war criminal,but Ambrose,while pointing out that Nixon could have unilaterally withdrew all US troops from Southeast Asia at any time after January 1969-and hence stopped the war and saving about 25,000 US lives-does not go so far. He is virulent about Nixon and Kissinger's policy towards Allende in Chile,but says little about US support for military rule elsewhere in Latin America-Brazil,for example. However,Ambrose really shines when describing the essential schizophrenia of Nixon.He could be,and frequently was,bigoted,narrow-minded hate-filled and vindictive,the first to kick someone when they were down.At the same time,the same person could rethink US foriegn policy in a generous,imaginative way,opening the door to relations with China,signing the first meaningful arms-control agreements with the USSR,overruling Kissinger and supporting Willy Brandt's ostpolitik,and redefining US nuclear weapons policy as being one of sufficiency rather than of superiority-thereby sparing US taxpayers the ruinous arms race imposed on them later by Ronald Reagan.Ambrose openly states in the introduction that he can't explain the multiple contradictions of Nixon's personality,only describe them. In domestic policy,Nixon railed against the right-wing bogeyman(both then and now)of "Big Government",but,whatever he said,he,amongst other things,started environmental protection big-time,and also didn't interfere with bussing So,a book about Nixon that is everything Nixon(and me!!!)was not-accurate,reliable,fair-minded and balanced.
The second part of Stephen Ambrose trilogy on Richard Nixon, The Triumph of a Politician, deals with the years 1962-1972.
Thus it starts with the year in which Nixon stated that he was walking out of history, and his statement to the press that "you won't have Nixon to kick around". This was when he lost the Californian gubernatorial election to Pat Brown.
It ends with the discovery of the break in at Watergate and an assessment of Nixon's first term.
It does not deal with the aftermath of the break-in and Nixon's subsequent resignation as this came later in 1974.
The book is fair and not given to the demonising of Nixon that is evident in other books. This is not to say that Ambrose is a fan of Nixon. In fact he confesses, in the book, to heckling him as a student when Nixon visited his university.
More recent historical revelations especially in relation to Cambodia perhaps put this book slightly out of date.
The book is easy to read and would suit both students of the Nixon years and those seeking an overview of his time in office.