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                          Book Reviews

The Young Nixon and His Rivals

"The Young Nixon and His Rivals is well researched and written in a very lively manner. It will remain extraordinarily useful for many years to come."

    - Kevin Starr, author, Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963



"Richard Nixon began his political career in 1946 and was the last major California GOP figure to remain standing by the end of the 1950s. His main Republican rivals, Earl Warren, William Knowland and Goodwin Knight had disappeared as presidential contenders. In this book, James Worthen tells for the first time a fascinating tale of pettiness, jealousy and arrogance in which Nixon emerges at the finale as the strongest and smartest of his potential adversaries."

     -  Irwin Gellmann, author of The Contender: Richard Nixon--The Congress Years, 1946-1952


"Nixon [and his three Republican colleagues] are now reunited in James Worthen's excellent history of their rivalries in California politics....The book provides a fascinating account of their friendships, feuds, and ultimate failures [and] serves as a prequel to Nixon's rise and fall from the presidency....Well worth the read."

    - Donna M. Binkiewicz, Cal State Long Beach, in Southern California Quarterly, summer 2011


Governor James Rolph and the Great Depression in California

"It is one of the great ironies of California history that its relentlessly upbeat politician James Rolph, best known as ‘Sunny Jim’ for his charming disposition, was also one of the state’s greatest tragedies—or so James Worthen ably recounts in his new and much-needed biography of the long-serving mayor of San Francisco and single-term governor of the Golden State….


This story of a man’s political life is at the heart of Worthen’s work, and it is a curious and fascinating story….When Rolph decided to run for governor in 1930 he, along with the rest of the country, had experienced serious financial setbacks.  Yet he entered the job with the same limitless energy and style with which he had governed San Francisco.  Unfortunately, he had no real vision to bring to the state, and his style did not work well in Sacramento….


This account of Rolph’s life is thoroughly engaging…"


     - California History, Fall 2007



"James Worthen's biography of Rolph is a good read, full of details about life in California at the turn of the twentieth century. We know where we are headed in this story--to a denouement where Rolph's personal, heroic style of politics is tested by the bleak demands of the depression, but on the way we learn about early California before the Valley girls and freeways. Rolph loved people, dogs, horses, food, flying--as well as eating well and carousing with women. The book includes nicely chosen photographs of Rolph engaged in most of what he loved to do."


     - Pamela E. Berger, Ph.D., J.D.

Photo Credits: California History Room, California State Library

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