Richard Norton Smith – “On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller”

Richard Norton Smith – “On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller”

From acclaimed historian Richard Norton Smith comes the definitive life of an American icon: Nelson Rockefeller — one of the most complex and compelling figures of the twentieth century. Fourteen years in the making, this magisterial biography of the original Rockefeller Republican draws on thousands of newly available documents and over two hundred interviews, including Rockefeller’s own unpublished reminiscences.

In On His Own Terms, Richard Norton Smith re-creates Rockefeller’s improbable rise to the governor’s mansion, his politically disastrous divorce and remarriage, and his often surprising relationships with presidents and political leaders from FDR to Henry Kissinger. A frustrated architect turned master builder, an avid collector of art and an unabashed ladies’ man, “Rocky” promoted fallout shelters and affordable housing with equal enthusiasm. From the deadly 1971 prison uprising at Attica and unceasing battles with New York City mayor John Lindsay to his son’s unsolved disappearance (and the grisly theories it spawned), the punitive drug laws that bear his name, and the much-gossiped-about circumstances of his death, Nelson Rockefeller’s was a life of astonishing color, range, and relevance. On His Own Terms, a masterpiece of the biographer’s art, vividly captures the soaring optimism, polarizing politics, and inner turmoil of this American Original.

The discussion was moderated by Sam Roberts, Urban Affairs Correspondent for the New York Times and Host of NY1’s The New York Times Close Up.

This program is part of the series “The Creation of Blue and Red America.”