Washington Journal: reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's downfall by Elizabeth Drew

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Washington Journal: reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's downfall by Elizabeth Drew

Category: History
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Pieces written as events unfolded make for a book about Watergate which will probably never be bettered. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Gerald Duckworth and Co Ltd
ISBN: 978-0715649169

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In early August 1974 I was in what was then Yugoslavia. There was a group of us, all interested in the political news, but essentially cut off from the outside world apart from the previous day's English newspapers which arrived mid morning. It was on the 11th of August that one of our number dashed onto the beach yelling He's resigned. He's RESIGNED!!! No one had any need to ask who he was talking about. We'd all been following the news about Richard Nixon's doings and wrongdoings for a year, with no one certain that he would be forced out of office. The investigative journalism (oh, for the days when journalists uncovered rather than merely covered) was done by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, but some of the most insightful reportage came from Elizabeth Drew writing for The New Yorker.

There are numerous books on Watergate, but Washington Journal is different. Other books are written with the benefit of hindsight - they knew what had happened and how it all worked out. Drew began writing for The New Yorker in September 1973 on the basis of her political instinct that within a relatively short time we would see changes in both the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency. As with many other political scandals it could have been that both men rode out the storm, that what happened faded to being a mere memory of yet another occasion when we all felt that the political classes had got away with it again.

During the seventies and eighties I read all I could lay my hands on about Watergate. Drew's book was the best by a long way, covering, as it did, not just the scandal itself, but the reactions of the American people and the implications of what was happening, as it happened. She was the only writer who brought out what people were feeling at the time. With a scandal such as this, hindsight is not always a benefit. There is a tendency to think back to Watergate as being about the burglary, whereas it was about so much more - the cover up, the attitudes of Nixon and those men with whom he chose to surround himself and their attempts to forestall every institution which was in place to check the executive.

Drew's writing is always objective and fair and the pieces are written in a way which makes you feel that you're having a conversation with a knowledgeable friend. She's measured in her reactions and shrewd in her assessments of people and events. Her access to the insiders means that her analysis was spot on. Much of this book is as it was originally published in the seventies, but there is an afterword which is well worth reading particularly for the details of Nixon's attempts to rehabilitate himself after he left Washington.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more about Nixon we can recommend Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein.

If you'd like to read excerpts from the book, you'll find a 'look inside' feature at Amazon.

Buy Washington Journal: reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's downfall by Elizabeth Drew at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Washington Journal: reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's downfall by Elizabeth Drew at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Washington Journal: reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's downfall by Elizabeth Drew at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Washington Journal: reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's downfall by Elizabeth Drew at Amazon.com.


Booklists.jpg Washington Journal: reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's downfall by Elizabeth Drew is in the Top Ten History Books of 2014.

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