Those who know me well, know that I’m somewhat fascinated by Watergate. The break-in at Democratic National Headquarters happened shortly after I as born. When I was in high school, I saw the movie All The President’s Men, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, based upon the book by Woodward and Bernstein.
Thomas Mallon’s Watergate is not a re-telling of history. It is a fictionalized version of events that surrounded the Watergate affair. Let me start by saying that the book does not portend to be factual. Nor does it pass judgment on anyone. It tells the story from the point of view of several people.
President Nixon, his wife, Pat, his secretary Rose Mary Woods, E. Howard Hunt, and Fred LaRue all appear as main characters in the book. They are supported by Alice Longworth, Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, and the usual Watergate suspects. Woodward and Bernstein are only mentioned a few times.
The center of the story is really Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s long-suffering secretary and Pat Nixon, his long-suffering wife. The book seamlessly melds fact and fiction. Some people will probably have an issue with that. I read it for what it was – fiction. A story. A compelling story, but a story. Just like 11/22/63 or Oswald’s Tale. They are fiction based on real events.
I enjoyed the obvious amount of consideration and research that Mallon put into the book. He does not make any of the characters seem dumb or emotionally unbalanced as has been said of Nixon. I appreciated the efforts he undertook to make sure that people were not portrayed as evil or even wrong. Just as people doing what they thought was right nor that needed to be done.
The story bogged down in a couple of places and at times, I was particularly concerned with some of the people in the story. There are a lot of characters and if you are unfamiliar with Watergate and the players, you may have a hard time following sometimes. But. If you like suspense stories and political dramas, you will like this book. Put aside your bias toward one side or the other, and enjoy the ride that Mr. Mallon takes you on. It’s well-worth your time and effort.