This was a long read. 620 large, small-font pages, not including notes. I wanted a good summary of the whole mess, and this delivered. Truth be told, for such a daunting volume, I fast-tracked a fair bit of historical and Nixon background.
I was 16 when Watergate started (1972) and 18 when it ended. But I was apolitical at the time and the televised coverage was too slow for a kid raised on TV.
Everyone has heard the names. Now I can tell you the roles of: Nixon, Erlichman, Haldeman, McGruder, Dean, Colson, Ellsburg, Mitchell, Ziegler, Kissinger, E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, Segretti, Sirica, Cox, Jawarski, Gray, Stans, Sen. Ervin, Sen. Mansfield, McCord, Kliendiest, Richardson, Stennis, Rucklehouse, Bork, and St. Clair. So I learned something.
Fun fact: at one point, they were concerned that the president would pardon himself (he had the power) prior to impeachment. But that would be obstruction of justice… but he could pardon that too, but that would be…
Nixon was an odious piece of work. A huge bigot. Little or no respect for the law. He actually believed that if the president does it, it is legal, He never acknowledged that what he did was illegal and just plain wrong. He donated some of his papers to charity. He was accused of tax evasion. He then had the value of his (again, not actually his) papers re-assessed from 50k to500k, neatly erasing his IRS indebtedness.
Some new restraints were placed on US government powers, but not much. Watergate's chief legacy was to change the relationship between the US people and their government. Iran Contra followed closely on Watergates heels and there are a lot of similarities. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Well written, insightful and bit chilling. If you are curious about those events. I would recommend it. Spoiler Alert: The movie "All the President's Men" is historically accurate, but ends in late '72. The shit hits the fan in '73, Tricky Dick resigns in mid '74, and Ford pardons him about a month later.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.