WATERGATE by Fred Emery


The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon
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 To coincide with the 20th anniversary of President Nixon's resignation, Emery (consultant for a Discovery Channel tie-in and former London Times executive editor) provides some new details in engagingly retelling the ``compelling story of botched government.'' It may seem that the Watergate scandal should be well- documented by now, but many of the facts are still unclear, and the accounts of the principals often conflict. Thus, Emery tells a sometimes confusing Rashomon-like narrative, referring first to one memoir, then to another sharply differing one in recounting the major events: the Nixon administration's long-standing program of covert operations against real and perceived ideological adversaries; the bungled May 28, 1972, break-in by Republican operatives at the Democratic national headquarters in the Watergate complex; and the increasingly desperate cover-up by the Nixon campaign and by Nixon himself. But although Emery unearths some new tapes and discusses some new details (his major revelation is that John Mitchell attempted to enter into a plea bargain in which Nixon would be spared prosecution in return for Mitchell's guilty plea), his account clearly reestablishes what other Watergate accounts have demonstrated: that high-level officials in the White House were parties to the Watergate break-in and other secret and unlawful operations, and that Nixon himself was an early party to the administration's and the campaign's frantic (and for a time effective) obstructions of justice. Emery argues persuasively that Nixon's resignation, in the face of almost certain impeachment, resulted from a bipartisan recognition that his administration was guilty of uniquely enormous political crimes (Nixon would never have been in danger of being impeached without Republican defections on the House Judiciary Committee). A first-rate and clear exposition of a complex and bizarre episode that traumatized America and tested the vitality of its political system. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First printing of 35,000; authour tour)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8129-2383-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994


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