Watergate: I love it

Watergate by
Thomas Mallon
Sometimes a book is reviewed, and reviewed again, and I place a
hold, and then I keep checking its release date because I am impatient for it!
This book is one of those.
And happily, happily, happily, it was worth the wait. (Sometimes
those long-awaited books disappoint, and man, does that suck.)
Now, you’re hearing this from a confirmed Watergate geek here. (My other “blog” is a reading map of All the President’s Men, so yes, I’ve got a bit of a Watergate problem.)
So I had an interest in this book’s subject matter already (a
plus), but I also had expectations (which
can be a minus).
My hopes were high because Mallon and I go way back to Henry and Clara (his novel about the
couple who accompanied the Lincolns
to Fords Theatre that dreadful night) and Mrs.
Paine’s Garage
(a nonfiction book about the woman who unknowingly stored
the gun used by Lee Harvey Oswald). And the guy’s an excellent writer who knows
his stuff.
(photo credit: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith
Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and
 Photographs Division)
Now, he’s fictionalizing plenty-o-stuff here, and you’re either
going to be OK with that or you’re not. For example, he manufactures an affair
between Pat Nixon and a widower from New
York. I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen. And there’s some other stuff like that.
But one of the things I love and adore is that several of the
participants in the actual drama lived in
the Watergate complex: John Mitchell, Fred LaRue, and Rose Mary Woods. So there
are scenes set in the residential area of the Watergate, and it just makes the
whole thing come full circle. All these people fretting about the future, there
in their homes in the same building complex as the break-in that busted the whole
thing wide open.
The story is told from the point of view of those within the
administration, so it’s the opposite angle from All the President’s Men (wondrous book—wondrous!) which tells the
story from the reporters’ viewpoint. I’m temperamentally inclined to prefer the
story told by the good guys, but these bad guys are so fascinating and so
weirdly flawed (every last one of them) that the book really worked for me.  

Alice Roosevelt Longworth is a character here, too, in the full sense of the word. She’s known for the enchanting phrase “If you
can’t say something nice, then sit next to me”—a person who was vaguely
terrifying in real life, but delightful from a safe distance. So there’s some
comic relief amidst all that sturm und drang.

Thoroughly absorbing, especially if you’re a Watergate-o-phile.   

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