For over 30 years, Robert Strauss was one of the most influential figures in American politics and diplomacy. Presidents of both major parties entrusted him with the most difficult and delicate assignments, culminating in his service as Washington's last ambassador to the Soviet Union during the dramatic transition from communism to democracy.
Raised in the small West Texas town of Stamford, he served as a Special Agent in the FBI after earning his law degree at the University of Texas. Shortly after World War II, he founded the law firm now known as Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. It has since grown to be one of the largest in the world, with offices across the United States and in Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Russia and Taiwan.
Robert Strauss's political experience reached back as far as future President Lyndon Johnson's first congressional campaign in 1937. He chaired the Democratic National Committee from 1973 to 1976, and Jimmy Carter's successful presidential campaign in 1976. He served in President Carter's cabinet as Special Trade Representative, and was the President's personal representative to the Middle East peace negotiations. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush named him U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union; after its dissolution, he continued to serve as Ambassador to Russia. In 1981, Robert Strauss was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.