Nixon in New York

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. (Published by Rowman & Littlefield/Fairleigh Dickinson University Press as part of the Law, Culture, and the Humanities Series, 2018)

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Reviews for Nixon in New York:

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, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

The book also does an excellent job balancing its particular focus with the need to provide readers with sufficient background, resulting in a solid overview of the time period and the political climate surrounding Nixon Mudge. Li approaches Nixon and the volume’s other notorious characters with open eyes, acknowledging their strengths while pointing out the flaws that eventually led to crimes, convictions, and resignations. The author presents readers with well-rounded portraits of key figures in U.S. law and politics in the second half of the 20th century. An engaging and well-written book that illuminates Nixon through the exploration of the midpoint of his career.

Kirkus Reviews

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... 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.

Choice Review

Li’s unvarnished look at the man is painstakingly researched and well-crafted. It is also a balanced and sympathetic appraisal of one of the central figures of the 20th century as he worked from an ignominious defeat to the most powerful position in the world. In addition to the political perspective, the inside look at the world of the Wall Street law firm in the 1960s is particularly compelling. Today, in the age of the megafirm, while political discourse is at an all-time low, Li’s story is a solid look at an equally divisive time and an undeniably polarizing figure. There are lessons to be learned.

Massachusetts Law Review