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King Richard: Nixon and Watergate — An American Tragedy

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In January 1973, Richard Nixon had just been inaugurated after winning re-election in a historic landslide. But by April 1973, his presidency had fallen apart as the Watergate scandal metastasized into what White House counsel John Dean called ‘a full-blown cancer’. King Richard is the intimate, utterly absorbing narrative of the tension-packed hundred days when the Waterg In January 1973, Richard Nixon had just been inaugurated after winning re-election in a historic landslide. But by April 1973, his presidency had fallen apart as the Watergate scandal metastasized into what White House counsel John Dean called ‘a full-blown cancer’. King Richard is the intimate, utterly absorbing narrative of the tension-packed hundred days when the Watergate burglars and their handlers in the administration turned on one another, revealing their direct connection ties to the White House. Drawing on thousands of hours of newly released taped recordings, Michael Dobbs takes us into the very heart of the conspiracy, recreating these dramatic events in unprecedentedly vivid detail. He captures the growing paranoia of the principal players and their desperate attempts to deflect blame as the noose tightened around them and the daily pressures became increasingly unbearable. At the centre of this spellbinding drama is Nixon himself, a man whose strengths — particularly his determination to win at all costs — were also his fatal flaws. Structured like a classical tragedy with a uniquely American twist, this is an epic and deeply human story of ambition, power, and betrayal.


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In January 1973, Richard Nixon had just been inaugurated after winning re-election in a historic landslide. But by April 1973, his presidency had fallen apart as the Watergate scandal metastasized into what White House counsel John Dean called ‘a full-blown cancer’. King Richard is the intimate, utterly absorbing narrative of the tension-packed hundred days when the Waterg In January 1973, Richard Nixon had just been inaugurated after winning re-election in a historic landslide. But by April 1973, his presidency had fallen apart as the Watergate scandal metastasized into what White House counsel John Dean called ‘a full-blown cancer’. King Richard is the intimate, utterly absorbing narrative of the tension-packed hundred days when the Watergate burglars and their handlers in the administration turned on one another, revealing their direct connection ties to the White House. Drawing on thousands of hours of newly released taped recordings, Michael Dobbs takes us into the very heart of the conspiracy, recreating these dramatic events in unprecedentedly vivid detail. He captures the growing paranoia of the principal players and their desperate attempts to deflect blame as the noose tightened around them and the daily pressures became increasingly unbearable. At the centre of this spellbinding drama is Nixon himself, a man whose strengths — particularly his determination to win at all costs — were also his fatal flaws. Structured like a classical tragedy with a uniquely American twist, this is an epic and deeply human story of ambition, power, and betrayal.

30 review for King Richard: Nixon and Watergate — An American Tragedy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    I would love to write a realllly looooong review explaining exactly how the whole Watergate thing began and how Mr Nixon didn’t know anything about it until after it happened and how Gordon Liddy unintentionally totally destroyed his presidency (One man! He did it!) but I can see your eyes glazing over already so I will reluctantly confine myself to a few remarks. 1) This book covers in great detail the period 20 January (Inauguration Day) to 17 July 1973. The collapse of Nixon is AWESOME – from I would love to write a realllly looooong review explaining exactly how the whole Watergate thing began and how Mr Nixon didn’t know anything about it until after it happened and how Gordon Liddy unintentionally totally destroyed his presidency (One man! He did it!) but I can see your eyes glazing over already so I will reluctantly confine myself to a few remarks. 1) This book covers in great detail the period 20 January (Inauguration Day) to 17 July 1973. The collapse of Nixon is AWESOME – from the president who won the biggest landslide ever to the only president who had to resign and be pardoned for criminal activities. And it only took 18 months. Fantastic. So the focus is on the period when Watergate transformed from a cloud the size of a man’s hand way out on the horizon to a tropical typhoon demolishing all buildings above ground level. But because Michael Dobbs is an excellent narrator and guides us through vast complexities with the grace of a mountain goat I wanted MORE of this story: Nixon’s total paranoia in 1972 which led to the dirty tricks, plus the crash & burn of the rest of 1973 and 1974. So that was kinda frustrating. Not many times do I wish a book was twice the size. 2) 21st March 1973. This is just astonishing. Dean tells Nixon that the Watergate burglars are blackmailing their political bosses for hush money. Instead of saying “what in hell? That would be illegal! Don’t give them a cent! Are you crazy?” Nixon switches immediately into Don Richard Corleone mode : ”How much money do you need?” “I would say these people are going to cost a million dollars over the next two years.” (That by the way was a wild guess.) ”You could get a million dollars. You could get it in cash. I know where it could be gotten.” So you see RN’s criminality right there. He didn’t tell anyone to burglarize anybody but he was instantly on board with covering it up. 3) The most shocking quote in the whole book is on page 263. It is April 22 and Watergate is raining down hard upon RN and his two main men Haldeman and Ehrlichman. RN says Just remember you’re doing the right thing. That’s what I used to think when I killed some innocent children in Hanoi. This is so grotesque that I thought it had to be a made up quote. The notes say it comes from the detailed diary kept by Haldeman himself. 4) There are glints of humour in all the anguish. At one point somebody had to step up and listen to the tapes to see just how incriminating they were. After several hours of listening to tapes in a locked room, Haldeman’s normally sharp mind had ceased to function clearly. And later that same day : By convincing each other that the president had said the opposite of what he had actually said, Nixon and Haldeman had finally come up with their best-case scenario. And as a side note I might say that when you read about the lives of rich American men you get the strong idea that what motivates these guys way way more than money or sex is golf and fishing. Man alive, do rich American men like to golf and fish.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Saunders

    Michael Dobbs' King Richard is the latest recapitulation of the Watergate scandal. The book focuses on the 100 days between Nixon's second inauguration, when Watergate seemed like background noise to his triumphant reelection, and April 30th, 1973 when Nixon fires aides Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman as the scandal snowballs beyond control. Thus the book is something like a prequel to Woodward and Bernstein's The Final Days, a fly-on-the-wall reconstruction focused on a "hinge point" (in Dobbs Michael Dobbs' King Richard is the latest recapitulation of the Watergate scandal. The book focuses on the 100 days between Nixon's second inauguration, when Watergate seemed like background noise to his triumphant reelection, and April 30th, 1973 when Nixon fires aides Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman as the scandal snowballs beyond control. Thus the book is something like a prequel to Woodward and Bernstein's The Final Days, a fly-on-the-wall reconstruction focused on a "hinge point" (in Dobbs' words) when Nixon's administration went from wounded to irreparably damaged. We see Nixon thrashing about like King Lear: insecure, paranoid, prone to violent mood swings, vowing revenge, but ultimately unable to control his fate for all his nominal power. We also get side bars on Howard Hunt, Gordon Liddy and the other burglars as they face ruthless prosecutors and a harrowing prison term; Jeb Magruder, the unctuous CREEP official whose brazen perjury hastens Nixon's downfall; John Dean, elevated to the "desk officer of the cover up" only to find himself shaped as a scapegoat; FBI official Mark Felt, leaking investigation details to the press to undermine director Pat Gray's connivance in the cover-up; Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Chuck Colson and other Nixon aides scrambling for cover as the walls come crashing down. Little of this will be new to Watergate buffs, but Dobbs' ear for telling dialogue (using recently-declassified White House tapes, oral histories and interviews) and vivid storytelling eye makes it seem fresh and exciting, even as we know the endgame. We come away from the book wishing that Dobbs had tackled the whole scandal, but grateful that he provided this window into the turning point of Nixon's presidency.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    Michael Dobb’s new book, “King Richard: Nixon and Watergate - An American Tragedy”, is one of the best political books I’ve ever read. Dobbs - who is the author of many other books based on British and American politics - takes a relatively short length of time - three months after his second Inauguration in January, 1973, and highlights the major events of that time span. He begins the book with an overview of the times and characters involved in the Watergate mess. He brings in the Washington Michael Dobb’s new book, “King Richard: Nixon and Watergate - An American Tragedy”, is one of the best political books I’ve ever read. Dobbs - who is the author of many other books based on British and American politics - takes a relatively short length of time - three months after his second Inauguration in January, 1973, and highlights the major events of that time span. He begins the book with an overview of the times and characters involved in the Watergate mess. He brings in the Washington Post reporters as well as CIA and FBI agents and explains the connections with Nixon and his “men”. I hadn’t realised Mark Felt’s position in the FBI and how it led to his link to Bob Woodward. I didn’t remember how involved Nixon was in the coverup of the break-ins at the Watergate and Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in Los Angeles, among many other facts. And since so much of the conversations in the book are based on the infamous tapes recorded in the Oval Office, Dobbs includes actual excerpts to play in various chapters of the Audible version. (I switched from the Kindle version to the Audible halfway through the book.) Dobbs doesn’t seem to miss much in his relatively short book - about 330 pages. He’s an incredibly concise writer and gives the reader a helpful “who’s who” at the beginning of the book. I liked this book so much I’ll probably use it when leading an adult education class. I’m not writing a political review of the book, but reading it reminded me of recent politicians and their actions...and I’ll leave it at that.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Elegantly structured, propulsive, relatively brief account of about 100 key days from Nixon's beginning his second term (after a landslide victory) to his resignation in disgrace. I've read a lot of Nixon books, but this one really helped me understand not only the legal and political issues but also the personalities and characters of the people involved. Also it's interesting to hear a Briton's perspective of all this. In theory I liked the idea that the audiobook included portions of the actu Elegantly structured, propulsive, relatively brief account of about 100 key days from Nixon's beginning his second term (after a landslide victory) to his resignation in disgrace. I've read a lot of Nixon books, but this one really helped me understand not only the legal and political issues but also the personalities and characters of the people involved. Also it's interesting to hear a Briton's perspective of all this. In theory I liked the idea that the audiobook included portions of the actual White House tapes, but in practice I ended up skipping most of them. They repeated the text, and the audio quality was poor. The audiobook reader was superb. Normally I don't like it when a narrator attempts accents. But this narrator did a great job imitating Nixon and Henry Kissinger, both of whom had/have distinctive speaking styles that could easily have crossed the line into parody. Not only that, he also did a great job voicing Martha Mitchell, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, and King Timahoe.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Smokychimp

    Phenomenal analysis and recreation of the 100 days of Watergate.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    An in-depth look at the 100 days following Nixon’s second term inauguration. An historic electoral victory, “peace with honor” in Vietnam, so many other foreign affairs accomplishments, a redefinition of the republican party’s base, all destroyed by Watergate. The fall is breathtaking. Nixon is hateful, spiteful, bigoted, yet aspires to greatness. His demons are evident. The tapes, something he wanted so that he could influence history in the manner in which he wanted, ultimately took him down. An in-depth look at the 100 days following Nixon’s second term inauguration. An historic electoral victory, “peace with honor” in Vietnam, so many other foreign affairs accomplishments, a redefinition of the republican party’s base, all destroyed by Watergate. The fall is breathtaking. Nixon is hateful, spiteful, bigoted, yet aspires to greatness. His demons are evident. The tapes, something he wanted so that he could influence history in the manner in which he wanted, ultimately took him down. Per the author: given that Nixon ultimately redefined himself, this is not really a Greek tragedy but a truly American story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Janhavi Giribhattanavar

    I am a Watergate junkie and this book is one of the best. Dobbs brings to life President Nixon and his cadre of yes-men who all thought they were doing the right thing. It’s about the unraveling of the highest office in the country and a showcase of what happens when morals become even slightly dubious. I don’t envy those in public service and those tasked to make decisions for the whole. I especially liked the structure of the book in the different parts and the extensive use of the recordings. I am a Watergate junkie and this book is one of the best. Dobbs brings to life President Nixon and his cadre of yes-men who all thought they were doing the right thing. It’s about the unraveling of the highest office in the country and a showcase of what happens when morals become even slightly dubious. I don’t envy those in public service and those tasked to make decisions for the whole. I especially liked the structure of the book in the different parts and the extensive use of the recordings. It reads like a thriller more than a historical non-fiction account.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    The Trump era made me a Watergate junkie. It’s as simple as that. If there’s a new book on Watergate, I’m reading it. I’ve become fascinated with the twisted story of Nixon and his cronies, especially how power can imbue one with a sense of dignity and grace, at least in the public eye. Most of us need to go to bed at night assuming our leaders are competent adults who wouldn’t hurt a fly unless it was absolutely necessary and who have it all under control. As we get older, wiser, we know this to The Trump era made me a Watergate junkie. It’s as simple as that. If there’s a new book on Watergate, I’m reading it. I’ve become fascinated with the twisted story of Nixon and his cronies, especially how power can imbue one with a sense of dignity and grace, at least in the public eye. Most of us need to go to bed at night assuming our leaders are competent adults who wouldn’t hurt a fly unless it was absolutely necessary and who have it all under control. As we get older, wiser, we know this to be a farce. Our leaders are all too human as we are human. Part of the reason why we build personality cults around them is that we need to believe in the best of their humanity to get us through. The Trump era, should have disabused us all of that notion. Our nation handed over to a gang of petty ante criminals, Stephen King villains, and shameless grifters who sucked the marrow out of all they could exploit before being mercifully booted in January. Just don’t overlook the Nixon crew. These guys were morons, completely in over their head. Michael Dobbs documents the six month decline from relative security to total chaos, showing that these guys had no idea what they were doing, protected only by the imprimatur of state legitimacy. The focus is not on the journalists, congress folk or public, but the powerbrokers and friends of Richard Nixon. Using the three act play, Dobbs intends to cast the story as a drama. And it is. Perhaps it’s a cheap trick he uses. It’ll be familiar to the Watergate buff. But it’s still a fun way to tell it. This book has been billed as a great starter to understanding Watergate. I actually disagree. It helps to know more about the break in, more about Liddy and Hunt and McCord. Start with All the President’s Men and/or Blind Ambition. But make your way here quickly. Don’t let this be the first or the last stop.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Cooper

    Armed with every recorded tape (and at this point, anything that went on in any of Richard Nixon's offices was taped), every published photo, and every West Wing memoir dealing with the hundred days after Nixon's second inauguration, Dobbs takes us inside the White House as the Watergate incident explodes from a sketchy burglary into an unprecedented scandal and a possible constitutional crisis. And by "takes us inside," I don't mean "describes." Instead, Dobbs uses the taped or reported convers Armed with every recorded tape (and at this point, anything that went on in any of Richard Nixon's offices was taped), every published photo, and every West Wing memoir dealing with the hundred days after Nixon's second inauguration, Dobbs takes us inside the White House as the Watergate incident explodes from a sketchy burglary into an unprecedented scandal and a possible constitutional crisis. And by "takes us inside," I don't mean "describes." Instead, Dobbs uses the taped or reported conversations as dialog and the photos and descriptions as setting to give us an immersive, novelistic view into the inner workings of this White House at this historic time. Many "characters" whose names I knew from the nightly news as a child ("Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Haldeman! Ehrlichman! John Dean and Nixon!") become fleshed out here, and at times sympathetic; it doesn't excuse his crimes to know that even Nixon had his kind and vulnerable sides, and wept honest tears when he was forced by events to fire his two closest aides. Dobbs is not a great prose stylist, but his approach is ingenious and effective. Recommended to any student of the period, or to people like me for whom Watergate was an early political awakening.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Woodstock Pickett

    I sometimes wonder why I remain so fascinated by the events of Nixon's second term. Partly, I suppose, because I vividly remember the summer of 1974 and following the events in Washington as the Watergate affair stumbled to the eventual resignation of the President. And also because the existence of the taping system in effect during those years in the White House meant that ordinary citizens like me could eavesdrop on discussions of vast importance sullied by petty griping and the now infamous I sometimes wonder why I remain so fascinated by the events of Nixon's second term. Partly, I suppose, because I vividly remember the summer of 1974 and following the events in Washington as the Watergate affair stumbled to the eventual resignation of the President. And also because the existence of the taping system in effect during those years in the White House meant that ordinary citizens like me could eavesdrop on discussions of vast importance sullied by petty griping and the now infamous "expletives deleted." Dobbs chronicles the months of January to July 1973, as events and disclosures began to pile upon each other, loyalties began to unravel, and formerly principled men began to come to terms with the tragic consequences of their various mistakes. Drawing upon the many hours of taped conversations the author is able to reconstruct actual events in remarkable detail. The book is very readable, almost compulsively enjoyable. If reading about such a miserable time could be enjoyed.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Hohmeyer

    It is important to know, upfront, that this book does not claim to expose any new Watergate information. The book will tell you this in the prologue, but still. What this does do is drive deeply and slowly into the 100 days after the Watergate break-in, detailing in slow burn the unraveling of the Nixon presidency. If you are looking for a complete overview of the scandal, this will end before episodes like the Saturday Night Massacre, etc. The 100-day mark is also just about when Haig destroys It is important to know, upfront, that this book does not claim to expose any new Watergate information. The book will tell you this in the prologue, but still. What this does do is drive deeply and slowly into the 100 days after the Watergate break-in, detailing in slow burn the unraveling of the Nixon presidency. If you are looking for a complete overview of the scandal, this will end before episodes like the Saturday Night Massacre, etc. The 100-day mark is also just about when Haig destroys the White House taping system, which works out perfectly for this audiobook. If you are going to read this, I *highly* recommend the audiobook. It plays portions of the tapes and audio diaries that it quotes at the end of each chapter so that you can understand the conversations in context and then actually get to hear the principles speaking. That is what put this book over the top for me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steve Peifer

    We will never have presidential biographies that will equal the sheer data that is available about Nixon. Because of the tapes, we have a view that is unprecedented. If you have read other Nixon biographies, you are aware of how bright he was and how crazy he was. What jumps out in this well written book is his insecurity and his neediness. Even if you aren’t an audio book person, this is the book to make an exception with. The narration is interspersed with actual White House tapes; it’s quite We will never have presidential biographies that will equal the sheer data that is available about Nixon. Because of the tapes, we have a view that is unprecedented. If you have read other Nixon biographies, you are aware of how bright he was and how crazy he was. What jumps out in this well written book is his insecurity and his neediness. Even if you aren’t an audio book person, this is the book to make an exception with. The narration is interspersed with actual White House tapes; it’s quite extraordinary and rather jarring. This isn’t a full biography; it covers one year as the Watergate story begins to unravel. It’s absolutely riveting.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    A good recap of the point at which Watergate really started to unravel the Nixon Presidency. It doesn’t go into much detail of the period beyond April 1973 when Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Dean leave the White House, but the Nixon Presidency was not the same after that point. Written in a narrative style that’s easy to follow and provides good solid background on all the major points of interest in the complicated saga, as well as keeping the large number of individuals involved well-defined and sor A good recap of the point at which Watergate really started to unravel the Nixon Presidency. It doesn’t go into much detail of the period beyond April 1973 when Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Dean leave the White House, but the Nixon Presidency was not the same after that point. Written in a narrative style that’s easy to follow and provides good solid background on all the major points of interest in the complicated saga, as well as keeping the large number of individuals involved well-defined and sorted out. There’s not much new here for serious students or Watergate, but it’s an entertaining read nonetheless. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone with a passing knowledge of the scandal looking to learn more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jarred Goodall

    Mr. Dobbs chooses a fascinating angle and timeline for the biggest political scandal in US History, in which hundreds of books have been published about. His reads like a intriguing mystery, unfolding step-by-step, which ties altogether, in curious detail. This is an excellent read!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Buford

    I really could not put this book down. If you like history you will be fascinated.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    Highly recommend as an audiobook, since there are audio snippets from Nixon's recordings at the end of each chapter. Highly recommend as an audiobook, since there are audio snippets from Nixon's recordings at the end of each chapter.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    The unraveling of Richard Nixon’s presidency plays out in intimate detail in this vivid recreation of a key period in the Watergate scandal … An indelible study of a political antihero. STARRED REVIEW Publishers Weekly Michael Dobbs is a master at narrative history. By focusing on the most critical 100 days of Watergate, and by sticking closely to the written and spoken record, Dobbs is able to bring to life the tragedy of Richard Nixon in a way no one else has. A truly gripping read and a moving The unraveling of Richard Nixon’s presidency plays out in intimate detail in this vivid recreation of a key period in the Watergate scandal … An indelible study of a political antihero. STARRED REVIEW Publishers Weekly Michael Dobbs is a master at narrative history. By focusing on the most critical 100 days of Watergate, and by sticking closely to the written and spoken record, Dobbs is able to bring to life the tragedy of Richard Nixon in a way no one else has. A truly gripping read and a moving portrait. Evan Thomas, author of Being Nixon The tale of the two-bit break-in at Washington’s Watergate building and its monumental consequences is complex and labyrinthine, but Dobbs manages to tell it with sparkling clarity … he tells the story amazingly well. Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Francis

    Given the age we live in now—with the near-unfathomable corruption, boobery and bad faith of the last six years—why does the half-century-old tale of Richard Nixon and Watergate continue to fascinate? Former Washington Post reporter and historical author Michael Dobbs knows why: the characters. With “King Richard: Nixon and Watergate—An American Tragedy,” he takes us over familiar ground but livens it up with illustrative details. For instance, I never thought before about the cavity searches man Given the age we live in now—with the near-unfathomable corruption, boobery and bad faith of the last six years—why does the half-century-old tale of Richard Nixon and Watergate continue to fascinate? Former Washington Post reporter and historical author Michael Dobbs knows why: the characters. With “King Richard: Nixon and Watergate—An American Tragedy,” he takes us over familiar ground but livens it up with illustrative details. For instance, I never thought before about the cavity searches many of the Watergate arrestees (educated public servants with no criminal history) went through in jail… Nor did I know about Deepthroat cracking up Bob Woodward with impressions during their first nighttime, parking-garage rendezvous… and I didn’t know about the physical abuse and forced sedatives endured by John Mitchell’s wife… as I didn’t know that the White House dog jumped on Nixon during a Watergate freakout/blame-rant, prompting the president to yell “Goddamnit get off me!” So yes, “King Richard” doesn’t really break new ground, but—especially with the now-public Nixon tapes—it sheds more light on the epoch-defining scandal. P.S. The book does end rather oddly and abruptly, though. I listened to the audiobook (which is great for “King Richard” because they include actual phone calls and audio diaries), and kept thinking it must have downloaded wrong, given that I had mere minutes of the book left and it didn’t seem logical that it would end where it did.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert P. Hoffman

    A masterpiece. The author has chosen to tell the story of the 100 days between Nixon's inauguration and when he had to accept the resignations of Haldeman and Ehrlichman and fire John Dean. The author does a wonderful job of telling all the details of the days, the attempt by the President to end the scandal, and the relentless flow of events that resulted in his downfall. I read parts of it and listened to the audio version. The audio version is fun, the author ends various chapters with audio e A masterpiece. The author has chosen to tell the story of the 100 days between Nixon's inauguration and when he had to accept the resignations of Haldeman and Ehrlichman and fire John Dean. The author does a wonderful job of telling all the details of the days, the attempt by the President to end the scandal, and the relentless flow of events that resulted in his downfall. I read parts of it and listened to the audio version. The audio version is fun, the author ends various chapters with audio excerpts from the actual tapes. The reader of the audio version sometimes tries to mimic the accents of some of the people (e.g., Kissinger, Martha Mitchell) but that is not effective. The author portrays Nixon in a way that caused me to feel sympathy for him. As with other books on Watergate, there is a sense that Nixon had no chance to survive. There were too many secrets that would eventually be revealed and too many actions that had been undertaken by aides that could not withstand scrutiny. This is just a great book that shows how good storytelling is always of great value.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    What's original about this book is that it takes a holistic look at the months following Nixon's second inauguration. So that means : Watergate, but also : Kissinger's negotiations about Vietnam, the triumphant return of the Prisoners of War, and even the minutiae of his ceremonial duties in the White House and his moments of rest and relaxation. The unraveling of the code of silence around the "dirty tricks" used by Nixon's political aides, starting with Howard Hunt and reaching its peak with J What's original about this book is that it takes a holistic look at the months following Nixon's second inauguration. So that means : Watergate, but also : Kissinger's negotiations about Vietnam, the triumphant return of the Prisoners of War, and even the minutiae of his ceremonial duties in the White House and his moments of rest and relaxation. The unraveling of the code of silence around the "dirty tricks" used by Nixon's political aides, starting with Howard Hunt and reaching its peak with John Dean's bid for immunity, is shown here more clearly than in any other book that I've read, most of which represent a single person's point of view. The book also does a good job of explaining Nixon's contradictions and brooding character, without falling into tiresome and excessive amateur psychoanalyzing. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in the story of Watergate, or the momentous last months of Nixon's presidency.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Judy G

    Riveting I lived at that time (early to mid 70's) and was part of the group that Nixon detested altho to be honest he detested most everyone. Michael Dobbs acknowledges the prime historian of the period of Watergate and President Nixon and the Plumbers and the key WH staff is a Mr Kutler and he died in 2018. This author has done an incredible thing here laying out the 100d up to just before RN (what he called himself) resigned as the evidence streamed in of the coverup of the breakins designed b Riveting I lived at that time (early to mid 70's) and was part of the group that Nixon detested altho to be honest he detested most everyone. Michael Dobbs acknowledges the prime historian of the period of Watergate and President Nixon and the Plumbers and the key WH staff is a Mr Kutler and he died in 2018. This author has done an incredible thing here laying out the 100d up to just before RN (what he called himself) resigned as the evidence streamed in of the coverup of the breakins designed by supported by the key WH staff reporting to the President. Watergate is was an upscale building in DC and one of its offices was the Democratic party place. The other breakin earlier organized by Gordon Liddy and H H Hunt was the office of Daniel Ellsberg psychiatrist and Ellsberg was known anti VNam war and took and released material by the govt as he worked for RAND Corp and was one of the peaceniks that Nixon detested. (to b continued)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marsha Valance

    Journalist/historian Dobbs sets this history of the Watergate scandal as a piece of classical theatre, beginning with a dramatis personae and organizing his chapters as acts of a play: Hubris, Crisis, Catastrophe, and Catharsis. One by one, he narrates events of 100 days of the scandal, beginning with Nixon's 1973 Inauguration Day and ending with the April day when Nixon was forced to defend himself by betraying his loyal subordinates. Drawing on the newly released audio tapes that the President Journalist/historian Dobbs sets this history of the Watergate scandal as a piece of classical theatre, beginning with a dramatis personae and organizing his chapters as acts of a play: Hubris, Crisis, Catastrophe, and Catharsis. One by one, he narrates events of 100 days of the scandal, beginning with Nixon's 1973 Inauguration Day and ending with the April day when Nixon was forced to defend himself by betraying his loyal subordinates. Drawing on the newly released audio tapes that the President kept of his meetings and conversations, Dobbs moves the story from the first moments of the cover-up through the Washington Post's reportage up to the moment when circumstances force Nixon to dismiss his most loyal aides and supporters. A riveting psychological portrait of ambition and hubris that precipitated the downfall of an American president.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John

    A riveting account of the one hundred days following Richard Nixon’s second inauguration. Rather than focusing on what happened, which has already been extensively documented, Mr Dobbs attempts to explain WHY Watergate happened. This is achieved by weaving psychological profiles of Nixon and the other main protagonists in with the main events as the presidency and the president crumbled. While not at all underplaying Nixon’s many character flaws and self-inflicted wounds he delivers a nuanced pic A riveting account of the one hundred days following Richard Nixon’s second inauguration. Rather than focusing on what happened, which has already been extensively documented, Mr Dobbs attempts to explain WHY Watergate happened. This is achieved by weaving psychological profiles of Nixon and the other main protagonists in with the main events as the presidency and the president crumbled. While not at all underplaying Nixon’s many character flaws and self-inflicted wounds he delivers a nuanced picture that invites a degree of empathy from the reader, and reminds us that Nixon’s vision of his own destiny resulted in some remarkable achievements including the ending of the Vietnam War, the opening up of China to the West, and strategic arms limitation treaties with the Soviet Union. I read it from cover to cover in two days.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    I initially assumed this to be a lesser version of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, with the shorter scope of just Nixon's second term. However, it turns out to contain an approach to Nixon that continuously counters claims of him as a modern Machiavelli, or any other simplification that turns the man into an exemplar of a specific mindset. Dobbs scrapes away at the mythology and portrays Nixon in all his vulnerability and angst. It's a fascinating portrait, well I initially assumed this to be a lesser version of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, with the shorter scope of just Nixon's second term. However, it turns out to contain an approach to Nixon that continuously counters claims of him as a modern Machiavelli, or any other simplification that turns the man into an exemplar of a specific mindset. Dobbs scrapes away at the mythology and portrays Nixon in all his vulnerability and angst. It's a fascinating portrait, well worth reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Hart

    A great read but seemingly unfinished I was just out of college (having escaped the draft by clerical error) when Watergate came to a head. I have very clear recollections of what happened. This book ends at Butterfield. I think that the most interesting history BEGINS with Butterfield. Having said that, this book provides an expertly crafted narrative rich in detail without indulging in useless trivia. The author makes the participants in this Greek tragedy come alive. The book is also fair to mos A great read but seemingly unfinished I was just out of college (having escaped the draft by clerical error) when Watergate came to a head. I have very clear recollections of what happened. This book ends at Butterfield. I think that the most interesting history BEGINS with Butterfield. Having said that, this book provides an expertly crafted narrative rich in detail without indulging in useless trivia. The author makes the participants in this Greek tragedy come alive. The book is also fair to most of the characters (I am a bit more positive about Magruder; a bit less about Colson). Liddy is accurately portrayed as one of the oddest actors in the history of the United States. The characterization of Nixon is spot on.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robert James

    An engrossing look at the Watergate coverup. I'm a sucker for books about this period in time and it still amazes me how many incredibly stupid people were involved and were thought to be intelligent. I was 14 years old and I was in Kansas City attending the 1976 Republican convention and shared an elevator with John Dean. I couldn't believe it that 6 feet away from me was one of the prime players in the coverup and now he is political pundit on CNN. This is a great read if you are interested in An engrossing look at the Watergate coverup. I'm a sucker for books about this period in time and it still amazes me how many incredibly stupid people were involved and were thought to be intelligent. I was 14 years old and I was in Kansas City attending the 1976 Republican convention and shared an elevator with John Dean. I couldn't believe it that 6 feet away from me was one of the prime players in the coverup and now he is political pundit on CNN. This is a great read if you are interested in Watergate. It covers the period of the first half of 1973. Hopefully, Mr. Dobbs covers the latter half of 1973 into the resignation in another book. Again, it's an example where many of our elected leaders picked country over party which would NEVER happen now as we have pitifully seen.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Least Torque

    Nothing changes, does it? Dirty politics ebb and flow eternally. The parallels with recent history are legion. Having lived through Watergate as a teenager, this book was a reminder of history repeating itself. I do think this book might be confusing to those not already intimate with Watergate. And I sometimes felt that the center was missing from the narration, perhaps because I read more fiction than non. And that the tension was underwhelming, perhaps because I did know the key facts already Nothing changes, does it? Dirty politics ebb and flow eternally. The parallels with recent history are legion. Having lived through Watergate as a teenager, this book was a reminder of history repeating itself. I do think this book might be confusing to those not already intimate with Watergate. And I sometimes felt that the center was missing from the narration, perhaps because I read more fiction than non. And that the tension was underwhelming, perhaps because I did know the key facts already. However, still very well done and I love how it ended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Gusev

    Well planned, meticulously researched, despite decades spent on the subject and countless stories told in writing as well as cinematic optics, Dobbs holds one attention to the last page. Especially poignant the story is in parallel to analysing recent Trump Presidency. Uneasy analogies abound, but so do stories told by Nixon himself, an avid historical biographies reader, of misdeeds and misfires of Presidents ennobled by history. It also plays well in 2021 alongside tv series like Apple+ 1971 o Well planned, meticulously researched, despite decades spent on the subject and countless stories told in writing as well as cinematic optics, Dobbs holds one attention to the last page. Especially poignant the story is in parallel to analysing recent Trump Presidency. Uneasy analogies abound, but so do stories told by Nixon himself, an avid historical biographies reader, of misdeeds and misfires of Presidents ennobled by history. It also plays well in 2021 alongside tv series like Apple+ 1971 or other movie dramatisations - allowing one to see in stereo the unfolding of early 70ies.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I saw little reason to really like this story of Watergate. Dobbs tells the story well enough, and if you never pick up another treatment this one might suffice. It includes some chunks of the famous tapes where we hear Nixon, Haldeman, Kissinger, Dean, etc. The author has invariably already explained what's to be heard, so am unclear of their purpose other than as a modern production diversion. (I have to suppose that the print version includes rather dry transcritpts, maybe not, but I saw litt I saw little reason to really like this story of Watergate. Dobbs tells the story well enough, and if you never pick up another treatment this one might suffice. It includes some chunks of the famous tapes where we hear Nixon, Haldeman, Kissinger, Dean, etc. The author has invariably already explained what's to be heard, so am unclear of their purpose other than as a modern production diversion. (I have to suppose that the print version includes rather dry transcritpts, maybe not, but I saw little reason for including them. A sad tragedy, indeed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Glickman

    As a teenager in the mid-70’s, I was an avid reader of books on famous Americans, particularly our Presidents. Friends of my parents gave me a subscription to Time magazine for my Bar Mitzvah and I followed Watergate developments in its pages. I remember watching the Watergate hearings in the summer. I also read and did a book report on All The President’s Men in the 8th grade. I thought this book did a great job of synthesizing the events and people from this period. I highly recommend it to th As a teenager in the mid-70’s, I was an avid reader of books on famous Americans, particularly our Presidents. Friends of my parents gave me a subscription to Time magazine for my Bar Mitzvah and I followed Watergate developments in its pages. I remember watching the Watergate hearings in the summer. I also read and did a book report on All The President’s Men in the 8th grade. I thought this book did a great job of synthesizing the events and people from this period. I highly recommend it to those who did not live through this time and to those who have forgotten them.

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