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Richard Norton Smith, photo by Dole Institute
Richard Norton Smith


NYS Writers Institute, November 20, 2014
4:15 p.m. A Conversation with Richard Norton Smith| Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

7:30 p.m. Keynote Lecture, On His Own Terms" | Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus


Richard Norton Smith, eminent historian of the American presidency, will present the keynote lecture for the 2014 Researching New York conference on his new biography of the former New York State governor and U. S. vice president Nelson Rockefeller, On His Own Terms (2014), on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. [note early start time] in Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, on the University at Albany’s downtown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will hold an informal seminar in the Standish Room of the Science Library on the UAlbany uptown campus. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany’s Department of History, and the NYS Archives Partnership Trust in conjunction with the 2014Researching New York conference. For additional information on all conference events go to: www.nystatehistory.org/researchny


Eminent political historian Richard Norton Smith is the author of the new biography, On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller (2014). Fourteen years in the writing, the book is widely hailed as the definitive biography of the New York governor and U.S. vice president who championed the arts and education, transformed Albany’s architectural landscape, and defined the moderate Republican brand.

The New Yorker called it an “enthralling biography, and said, “On His Own Terms succeeds as an absorbing, deeply informative portrait of an important, complicated, semi-heroic figure who, in his approach to the limits of government and to government’s relation to the governed, belonged in every sense to another century.” In advance praise, historian Michael Beschloss said, “Smith has brought us a gripping, magisterial, deeply researched life of one of the most intriguing figures in American political history.” Historian Douglas Brinkley said, “This is one of the greatest cradle-to-grave biographies written in the past fifty years. It’s never dull and always joyfully lucid.”

On His Own termsA Pulitzer finalist for the 1982 biography, Thomas E. Dewey and His Times, Smith is also the author of The Colonel (2003), about Chicago Tribune publisher Robert McCormick, The Harvard Century: The Making of a University to a Nation (1998), Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation (1993), and An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover (1984).

Smith is the past creator and director of libraries and museums dedicated to six Republican presidents, including Lincoln, Hoover, Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan, and George W. Bush. In 2009, Smith was chosen by Congress to be one of two historians to present a formal address on the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. A close friend of President Gerald Ford, Smith delivered the final eulogy at Ford’s funeral in 2006, and performed that role again at First Lady Betty Ford’s funeral in 2011. Smith is a former speechwriter for Senator Bob Dole and served as the first director of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. He is also the coauthor of three books with Dole, including a memoir of the Senator’s marriage, Unlimited Partners (1988, with Elizabeth Dole), the humor book, Laughing (Almost) All the Way to the White House (1998),and its sequel, Great Presidential Wit (2001).

A frequent commentator on historical matters for the PBS NewsHour, ABC News and C-SPAN, Smith is often described as C-SPAN’s “in-house historian.”

He is currently at work on a biography of President Ford.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.