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Watergate: A Novel

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Watergate: A Novel.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Thomas Mallon(Author)

    Book details


A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Book
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of 2012
A 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Finalist

From one of our most esteemed historical novelists, a remarkable retelling of the Watergate scandal, as seen through a kaleidoscope of its colorful perpetrators and investigators.
 
For all the monumental documentation that Watergate generated—uncountable volumes of committee records, court transcripts, and memoirs—it falls at last to a novelist reconstruct some of the scandal’s greatest mysteries (who did erase those eighteen-and-a-half minutes of tape?) and to see this gaudy American catastrophe in its human entirety. In Watergate, Thomas Mallon conveys the drama and high comedy of the Nixon presidency through the urgent perspectives of seven characters we only thought we knew before now. Mallon achieves with Watergate a scope and historical intimacy that surpasses even what he attained in his previous novels, and turns a “third-rate burglary” into a tumultuous, first-rate entertainment.

Thomas Mallon is the author of eight novels, including Henry and Clara, Dewey Defeats Truman, and Fellow Travelers. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review and The Atlantic, among other publications.

3.4 (8076)
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Book details

  • PDF | 448 pages
  • Thomas Mallon(Author)
  • Vintage; Reprint edition (January 8, 2013)
  • English
  • 7
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By JoeV on January 20, 2012

    With all that's been discovered, exposed, reported and chronicled on Watergate, writing yet another book, let alone a novel on this scandal seems an arduous if not impossible task. We all have our opinions and memories; our tally of the good guys and bad guys; and even a list of "What ifs?" All true, but Thomas Mallon's book is both fascinating and scary - not Hitchcock Psycho scary - but scary in how "real" this novel reads - regardless if it is "fiction".The author uses an interesting mix of narrators - some well-known, some not so much - to tell the "story" of this third rate burglary, its aftermath and the subsequent downfall and resignation of President Richard Nixon. We meet Howard Hunt, ex-CIA, one of the burglars and maybe a little mentally unbalanced. Fred LaRue, good friend of John Mitchell, presidential aide and White House "bag-man". The First Lady Pat Nixon and Presidential Secretary Rose Mary Woods - both of these women exceptionally well developed in this book. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the elderly first daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, acerbic, still mentally sharp and the only one who seems to be able to connect the tragic dots of this scandal. (Alice nicknames John Dean the TST - the tortoise shell(ed) tattler.)Elliot Richardson, the attorney general removed during "The Saturday Night Massacre" - and former Secretary of Defense, HEW and Undersecretary of State - spends some time in the spotlight, and is on the receiving end of a few barbs. (I don't know much of Richardson's "history" to make a call, but that he is presented here as "opportunistic" is an understatement.) John and Martha Mitchell also each play a role - Mr. Mitchell, Nixon confidante, former AG, head of CREEP, and the long suffering husband who took his eye off the ball; Mrs. Mitchell, the intoxicated, shrill, and wildly indiscreet elephant in the room and on the phone. And of course at the center of all this is Richard Nixon, who although not portrayed sympathetically by any means, is still very human here.Just as fascinating are some of the players given bit parts in the novel. (Maybe because they're still alive, but there seems to be more to the lack of attention here than that.) G. Gordon Liddy is never on center stage and is off-handedly referred to by several of the above as a macho, overzealous, incompetent buffoon. Henry Kissinger pops in and out of the narrative - usually obsequious and insecure when he does. And just to keep the reader on his or her toes, there are several fictional characters; one of which adds a whole new dimension to Pat Nixon.I found this an extraordinary book - maybe a tad long, but I'm not smart enough to identify what's not needed - and one where you rarely, if ever, feel the presence of the author. Not an easy task when you think about it. The only caveat I have is the amount of Watergate knowledge one brings to this book. Mallon drops the reader right into the deep end of the pool with his novel, and even with a fair bit of Watergate lore in my head I had to refer to Wikipedia several times. Still well worth the read and one folks will be talking about for some time to come.

  • By Jill I. Shtulman on February 21, 2012

    Weaving fiction with fact - particularly when the subject matter is as documented, analyzed, evaluated, dramatized, and talked about as Watergate - is a particularly audacious task. I thought I had exhaustively read just about anything that could be said about Watergate. I was wrong.Thomas Mallon's new book is absolutely brilliant and unlike anything I've ever read about those dark days in the early 1970s. His real theme is what Stephen Colbert calls "truthiness." In a locale where political life is a gaudy composition of intrigue, farce, and pathos -- in a liquor-soaked insular community where everyone is sleeping with everyone else and the object is to win the game, not serve the people--what is truth anyway? Do the gravest lies have an element of truth? Does truth contain its share of lies? And what does it all matter?Mr. Mallon subtlety suggests that with all the rumors, recreations, and complexities of political life, it almost doesn't matter what is true and what isn't. Did Pat Nixon really have a lover through the Watergate years, a retired trust-and-estates widower? Did money man Fred LaRue kill his father accidentally or by design during a duck hunting expedition? Did Rose Woods erase the infamous tapes because she was ordered to or because - just maybe - she was a little inebriated and a whole lot angry? What was behind Nixon's maudlin final speech as he departed the presidency? These are just some of the more interesting questions that Mr. Mallon poses.If you're like me, you'll run to the Internet to google all these - and more. The mastery of his prose is that you will not be able to detect what is fact and what is not. And curiously, the more you read, the more it won't matter.You'll meet a Nixon who is genuinely perplexed by the turn of events. "The actual globe could fall apart at any time, but moments ago this throng in front of him had no doubt whistled and hollered for the Post boys, all for saving the world from what was -truthfully - a third-rate burglary." Unlike the "good versus evil" that most of us regard Watergate to be, we read that LBJ had commanded the bugging of Nixon's campaign plane (Or did he? That's part of the fun of this book. Nixon regarded the burglary as business as usual and sadly, it probably was.Throughout, Alice Longworth, the octogenarian first-born of Teddy Roosevelt, stands at a distance and also in the center of things, clearly noting the farce that D.C. continually acts out. All the "characters" you know are here - Nixon, Agnew, the elusive E. Howard Hunt, John Mitchell and his out-of-control wife Martha, Elliot Richardson (the Boy Scout who loves to throw back a drink or two), Rose Woods, and Nixon's family. They're here in ways you know them and in ways you have never seen them before. I strongly suspect that at the end of 2012, this book will be high on my "Best Of 2012" list.


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