cover image Watergate: A New History

Watergate: A New History

Garrett Graff. Avid Reader, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-1-982139-16-2

Journalist Graff (The Only Plane in the Sky) sheds new light on the Watergate scandal in this exhaustive history. Drawing on memoirs, tape recordings, court transcripts, and recently declassified FBI documents, Graff highlights the paranoia and ambition that ran through the Nixon administration, from the distrust between the president and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, to disagreements between chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, White House counsel John Dean, and campaign chairman John Mitchell. Though Nixon’s campaigns had always involved “a certain abnormal level of dirty tricks,” according to Graff, a series of leaks and scandals including the release of the Pentagon Papers helped push his aides to new heights of “skullduggery,” orchestrating break-ins at the Brookings Institution in 1971 and the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate building in 1972. Graff skillfully interweaves the perspectives of journalists and law enforcement officials investigating the Watergate break-in with the Nixon team’s attempts to “use the organs of government to cover up their own rogue operation,” and incisively analyzes how the congressional inquiry into the scandal resulted in Democrats and Republicans coming together to uphold the Constitution and limit the powers of the president. Expertly researched and assembled, this is a valuable introduction to one of history’s greatest political scandals. Agent: Howard Yoon, Ross Yoon Agency. (Feb.)