Richard Nixon: The Life Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Richard Nixon: The Life presents the detailed biography of the thirty-seventh president of the United States, who became famous for his successful endeavors that put him in the White House and for his controversial life the complexities of being such a top tier political figure.

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Favorite quote from the author:


Richard Nixon was a president with humble origins. He was born in 1913 in a bungalow that his father had built in Whittier, California. Growing up, he had three siblings, and tuberculosis had tragically killed him. Due to the poor conditions offered by his modest parents, Richard knew that he had to rely on education and his doings to get by later on. 

Unfortunately, his parents couldn’t provide him with the right mindset and education. So Richard took responsibility for his formal training and studied law. He also performed in plays and played the violin. All these activities while keeping a thought in the back of his head – what if he could enter politics one day?

However, to do so, he must serve the army first, as America was going through World War II. So he decided to say goodbye to his wife Pat, begin his naval officer training and leave for the South Pacific. 

Richard Nixon: The Life by John A. Farrell explores how these circumstances and the course of his life shaped the strong man he ended up becoming. President Nixon faced many challenges to become who he was, which served as lessons for all who wanted to learn more about his life and get inspired. 

Here are my three favorite lessons from the book:

  1. Constantly pushing forward will eventually give you the right opportunities despite your origins.
  2. Power and political responsibilities can turn one’s life principles around and interfere with personal life.
  3. Nixon’s paranoia made him do unacceptable things as a president, which eventually terminated his mandate.

Let’s explore these lessons one by one!

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Lesson 1: The consistency in our actions will create the right circumstances and put us in a place where good luck can find us.

Richard Nixon was not what one would call lucky or well-positioned. His humble background could’ve been the perfect excuse for him to end up becoming a simple man with no aspirations or someone with no future at all. But instead, he worked hard throughout his life and pursued many paths, from law to military life, and obviously, politics. 

Naturally, things worked out for him. As it turns out, his cross-disciplinary skills helped him become the thirty-seventh president of the United States of America. In addition, his experience in the Navy and college turned him into a perfect fit for the Republican party. On top of that, he was great at making good impressions and public speaking. 

His anti-communist inclinations and his drive to do whatever it takes to win allowed him to participate in the Herter Committee to assess the damage done by war in Europe. Moreover, he discovered undercover communists in the USA when no one else could find them. His acts made a great impression across America. 

We could say that Nixon still wasn’t a lucky man by this point in his life, but he was indeed well-positioned. Soon, he would be running for Senate and then for the vice-presidency of the Republican nomination. And although he was publicly defamed, he managed to get out of that situation looking spotless. Now, he was a lucky man as well. But isn’t that a result of hard work and consistency? I’ll let you decide!

Lesson 2: When Nixon made it to the top, he started to drift away from his family and principles.

Nixon’s career was skyrocketing, but unfortunately, everything in his life came at a cost. When he was running for Senate, Pat and their two daughters – Tricia and Julie, started to feel the imminent space. They thought that the man in their lives was drifting away from them. On one side, Nixon’s career was going well, as he was winning political arguments publicly one after the other.

On the other hand, his personal life was taking a hit. He promised his wife that he’d be done with politics soon and that he’d have more time for his family. But unfortunately, his involvement with politics only grew stronger every day.

Eisenhower, the candidate for the presidency that Nixon was rooting and campaigning for, sent the young vice president on a long Asian and Middle Eastern tour. Pat hated the idea of leaving her girls behind for two months, but she agreed to do so to strengthen the couple’s public image.

When Nixon took over some of Eisenhower’s duties, the political life continued when he had a heart attack. Then, in 1956, the two were re-elected again. Then, he managed to win the presidency himself. This allowed him to spend even less time with his family.

On top of that, he was starting to have paranoiac episodes from substance and alcohol excessive usage. The president had taken on a dark path built on unhealthy principles, away from his family.

Lesson 3: The Watergate scandal was the downfall of Nixon.

Richard Nixon loved power and status, but his unhealthy attachment proved fatal to his career. So, first, he tried to bring too many wins home. His visit to China was an important event that marked a successful endeavour – tightening the relations with Asia during the Vietnam war.

Then, he made some significant economic interventions, which people thought to be quite radical. However, the stock market rocketed, so that’s what mattered to most. He then passed the 1972 elections, but what happened next would end his mandate.

The first mistake was banning the Washington Post from the White House after the newspaper’s lousy review about his daughter’s wedding. Later, the Supreme Court ruled his actions unconstitutional.

Then, there was the Watergate scandal. Nixon’s paranoia skyrocketed in the ’70s. He appointed the Special Investigations Unit to spy and suppress all his enemies illegally. In 1972, his team broke into the Watergate office, where the Democrats were based. The police found out, so they carried out investigations to determine what happened.

All arrows were pointing at Nixon, who was in denial. Finally, however, some information got leaked to the Washington Post, which published everything once again. Soon after that, some tapes were the final proof it took to end his mandate. In 1974, Pat and Richard Nixon flew off the White House.

Richard Nixon: The Life Review

Richard Nixon: The Life is a detailed biography of the thirty-seventh president of the United States of America, presenting not only his political career and the challenges that occurred during his mandate but also his personal life and the ups and downs of his evolution as a human. If you enjoy politics, biographies, or are simply in the mood for a riveting story, grab this book.

Who would I recommend our Richard Nixon: The Life summary to?

The 45-year-old Republican wants to learn more about American history, the 30-year-old aspiring politician, or anyone who’s passionate about the biographies of famous political figures.

Last Updated on May 19, 2023

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.