Best known for his 1975 historical work The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California, this writer, historian, and Asian American studies scholar also penned several novels, including The Great Midland and Bright Web in the Darkness.
After graduating from the University of Chicago, he served during World War II in the United States Merchant Marine. His first novel, Grand Crossing, was published when he was just twenty-four years old.
After receiving a Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley, he taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, founding the school's Asian American Studies Center.
His father, Eugene Saxton, was the chief editor for Harper & Brothers, and his brother, Mark Saxton, also had a prominent career as a writer and editor. Alexander Saxton and his wife, Trudy, were parents to two daughters.
While growing up in Manhattan, New York, he was acquainted with such notable writers as Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) and Thornton Wilder (Our Town).