BLIND AMBITION: The White House Years by John Dean
Kirkus Star

BLIND AMBITION: The White House Years

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This, if anything, is the payoff story of the Nixon White House: one young lawyer on the make, otherwise unexceptional, puts together the Watergate cover-up and, when the chips begin to fall, brings down the President. Unconstrained now, and mercifully uncontrite, Dean recounts, e.g., Nixon's anger when his desk was refinished to remove the Presidential heel marks, imprint of his tenure in office. At his San Clemente job interview, Dean himself was careful to match Haldeman's conservative dress, but had the wit to call his future boss ""Bob."" Once installed as the President's lawyer, he set out ""to build our practice like any other law firm,"" first through conflict-of-interest counseling, then--""scouting around for more important cases""--by expanding into intelligence work, a clue to what his superiors were interested in. But the marshaling of forces after Watergate was his big break. ""Here they all are, I thought--Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Kleindienst--with Junior suddenly in theft league."" When Nixon referred to the Dean Report on television, the first Dean had heard of it, he was ecstatic: ""That, I thought, was a real vote of confidence. He was saying I could pull off the coverup."" The self-styled ""messenger boy"" of earlier days has become ""the ringmaster""--marveling at his success in protecting Nixon while, as the election approaches, the President's popularity mounts. And so it comes as no surprise that disappointment in Nixon, coupled with the need to extricate himself, leads him to the prosecutors. He makes a few dramatic if not startling disclosures--most notably in a tense scene with John Mitchell--but the nub is detail: just how Haldeman & Co. undercut Mitchell, Chuck Colson covered his tracks, Dean and the President sparred. The flip side of All the President's Men--a document, a minefield, and prime entertainment.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1976
Publisher: Simon & Schuster