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On His Own Terms summary

Richard Norton Smith

A Life of Nelson Rockefeller

4.1 (20 ratings)
36 mins

Brief summary

On His Own Terms by Richard Norton Smith is a biography of Nelson Rockefeller, the governor of New York and Vice President of the US. It explores his life, political career and relationships, providing insights into his personality and legacy.

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    On His Own Terms
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    Nelson Rockefeller was born into an extraordinarily wealthy family, but experienced his share of struggles as well.

    You’ve likely heard of John D. Rockefeller Sr., the famous American oil tycoon and often considered the wealthiest person in modern history. But have you heard the name Nelson Rockefeller?

    Born on July 8th, 1909, the third child of Abby and John D. Rockefeller Jr., Nelson was the grandson of John Sr. who, along with his brother, William Avery Rockefeller Jr., founded Standard Oil, one of the largest oil companies in the world.

    William Avery Rockefeller Sr., Nelson’s great-grandfather, was a scoundrel and a con man. He earned a living by traveling the country peddling fake pharmaceuticals, a practice that earned him the nickname “Devil Bill.”

    But Nelson’s father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., took a different tack, spending much of his life, and the family’s money, on philanthropic projects. He passed this passion onto his children, and Nelson, in particular, would inherit his father’s devotion to improving the world. But Nelson had another thing going for him: the creative business instincts of generations of Rockefellers before him.

    While he came from a very privileged background, Nelson’s life was not always one of ease and comfort. He struggled with a learning disability that would affect him until his death.

    While growing up, it became clear that Nelson suffered from dyslexia, which made his schoolwork extremely difficult. Fortunately, he had a team of fantastic tutors and was enrolled in the Lincoln School, a progressive educational institution that let students build their own courses and learn by doing. For instance, if a child was obsessed with boating, they could use their passion to learn about geography, history, music and literature.

    It was as a result of this supportive environment that Nelson managed to make his way through school, excelling in math, science and biology. He also proved to have boundless energy and an attention-seeking personality.

    While his disability left him with grades that were just average, his marks were still good enough to get him into Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. There he earned the lifelong nickname “Rocky” and developed his passions for photography, art and architecture.

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    What is On His Own Terms about?

    On His Own Terms (2014) tells the remarkable life story of Nelson Rockefeller, who used his family’s notoriety and wealth to change the world for the better. These blinks walk you through Nelson’s life, from his involvement in the family oil business to his extended career in politics.

    On His Own Terms Review

    On His Own Terms (2016) is a captivating biography that explores the life and legacy of one of America's greatest political figures, Nelson Rockefeller. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With meticulous research and insightful analysis, it provides a comprehensive understanding of Rockefeller's complex personality and influential career.
    • The book delves into Rockefeller's controversial political journey, revealing the inner workings of power and politics in America during the 20th century.
    • Through compelling storytelling and nuanced portrayals, it brings to life the fascinating characters and events that shaped Rockefeller's extraordinary life, ensuring that it is definitely not boring.

    Best quote from On His Own Terms

    Hes impossible not to like. - Hall of Fame baseball player Jackie Robinson on Rockefeller

    —Richard Norton Smith
    example alt text

    Who should read On His Own Terms?

    • Students of history and politics
    • Readers who love a good biography

    About the Author

    Richard Norton Smith is a critically acclaimed biographer and frequent contributor to both PBS and ABC News. He has served as director for a number of presidential libraries, including those dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower.

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    On His Own Terms FAQs 

    What is the main message of On His Own Terms?

    On His Own Terms explores the life and legacy of Richard Nixon, shedding light on the complexities of his presidency and personal character.

    How long does it take to read On His Own Terms?

    Reading time varies, but you can get the key insights from On His Own Terms in just 15 minutes with the Blinkist summary.

    Is On His Own Terms a good book? Is it worth reading?

    On His Own Terms is a compelling read that offers unique insights into Richard Nixon's journey. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of On His Own Terms?

    On His Own Terms is authored by Richard Norton Smith.

    What to read after On His Own Terms?

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