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Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes Paperback – September 22, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (September 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684851873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684851877
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,283,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

More than 20 years after the Watergate scandal that brought down his presidency, the character of Richard M. Nixon continues to fascinate us. Many books have been written about Nixon, and about Watergate, but perhaps none sheds so revealing a light on the late president as Stanley I. Kutler's Abuse of Power. In the years following Watergate, as Nixon fought to rebuild his reputation from the ruins of his shattered presidency, he fought fiercely to suppress publication of most of the secret tapes that led to his downfall. During his lifetime, only about 60 hours of the almost 4,000 that exist were ever made public, and even after his death his estate continued to obstruct further releases. Then, in 1996, Kutler, along with the advocacy group Public Citizen, won a landmark decision to release the tapes.

Among other things, Abuse of Power definitively answers the question of whether Nixon was directly involved in raising hush money (he was) and suggests a reason for the burglary attempt at the Watergate Hotel (financial documents that might have linked the Democratic Party chairman to Howard Hughes). The tapes also reveal the vindictive and bigoted side to Nixon's personality, particularly as he discusses "killing" the Washington Post, and blames rich Jews for Billy Graham's tax problems. Abuse of Power only covers an additional 201 hours of tape of the near 4,000 that remain unreleased. It seems that the final chapter on Watergate has yet to be written. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Nixon: "I can't believe that they can tie [Watergate] to me. What's your feeling?" H.R. Haldeman: "It'll be messy." Right. Twenty-five years after the existence of Nixon's secret White House tape recordings became known, Kutler sued for and won their release. The excerpts provided in this excellent production are a fine example of oral history at its most dramatic (see also Michael Beschloss's Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, Audio Reviews LJ 2/1/98). Actor William Windom captures the vocal expressions listeners associate with Nixon. The voices of Haldeman, John Erlichman, Henry Kissinger, John Dean, Alexander Haig, and Rose Mary Woods are rendered realistically by an ensemble company. The effect is riveting and brings the listener into the Oval Office with Nixon and the White House staff as they try to distance themselves from the firestorm of allegation being leveled at them from outside. By the end, even Nixon is referring to himself in the third person to separate himself from the inevitability of the official investigation. All libraries will want at least one copy of this production, especially those with a focus on 20th-century political history.?Barbara Valle, El Paso P.L., Tex.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Candace Scott on July 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is an incredible read, an essential addition to any Watergate buff's library. The bulk of the book consists of transcripts from conversations Nixon had with his advisors during the Watergate break-in and its aftermath. All of the material is recently released and there's no doubt why the Nixon daughters desperately want this stuff suppressed: it paints their father with a viscerally black brush. We all know Nixon was a paranoid loner, brilliant but erratic, and distrustful of everyone around him except Haldeman and Ehrlichman. These tapes show conclusively that Nixon also demanded total sycophancy from his inner circle, that he was a racist, an habitual liar and someone with a pathological need to deceive.
Bob Haldeman and Alexander Haig come off as complete toadies; worthless "yes men." Ehrlichman comes across better, as does Magruder, but the worst abuse must be heaped on Henry Kissinger, who appears as a quasi-insane boot licker of the highest order. It's incredible to see these men constantly assure Nixon that he was always right, always clever and completely above the law. How wrong they all were.
The most delicious parts are when Nixon speaks himself. He is unintentionally hilarious, as he plots to "get" various reporters, wiretap his enemies and harass anyone who gets in his way. His diatribes on Howard Baker and Sam Erwin are the stuff of classics, you'll be on the floor, laughing. "That senile old b------," Nixon growls about Erwin. "He's half in the bag every waking moment, the miserable a------." This is a grand book, highly entertaining!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Kutler has done a masterful job of presenting these tapes.Nixon was terribly served by his advisors. Haldeman was a meanspirited drone. One surprise was how badly Haldeman's successor, General Aexander Haig,comes across. In his goal to consolidate his own power he spurs Nixon's paranoia and anger. In the end all the president's men ill served their flawed chief. Nixon comes across and a petty, vengeful and neurotic man. Imagine. having your day to day conversations publicly revealed. Posthumus humiliation! Any student of Watergate must read this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you are interested in how Nixon and his staff handled the Watergate issue, then the book Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes by, Stanley Kutler is a great one to read. Kutler does a great job of setting the private conversations up with comments as to what they cover. He also gives some explanations at the beginning of the major areas of the book. I was happy that they did not edit much of the conversations that took place because they serve a good point in the overall book.
What struck me the most about the book was just how desperate Nixon kept getting. I almost started to think that maybe he even believed the lies he was telling. It was so fascinating to see how he would come up with a "cover" story and then keep presenting it to his staff to see if they would replace their understanding of the events with his. What is sad is the amount of denial that Nixon encountered at the end. He was trying so hard to justify his actions; I started to think that he was trying to change reality with his force of will.
Many of the conversations are very revealing and interesting. It makes me wonder, if at times, Nixon forgot he was being taped? I got a good understanding of why Nixon and his family fought so hard to keep the tapes private. In my opinion, these tapes have set back all the work Nixon did after leaving office to rebuild his reputation. It will help you if have read something else to give you some background on the conversations. Hopefully, this will not be the only book on the Watergate scandal that you read. Overall, the book is interesting and well written.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wilcy Moore on May 11, 2005
Format: Audio Cassette Verified Purchase
I listened to the cassette tape version of this book, which is a reenactment of the tapes by professional actors. I was kind of hoping to listen to the actual tapes, but this approach turned out to be better than expected.

One thing that kind of bugged me was the continual mispronunciation of Gordon Strachan's name (pronounced "strawn" not "stra-chen"). That kind of boo boo only reminded me that these were actors and not the real people.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kirie Pedersen on December 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you grew up during the Vietnam era (or not), and cut your teeth on Watergate and the resignation of a president, listen to Abuse of Power as a book on tape. Hear the participants speak for themselves in the privacy of their offices. Kutler's Abuse of Power is based on tapes hitherto suppressed as Nixon, in his lifetime, vigorously sought to repaint his image.

Also recommended to read alongside the tapes: Secrets, A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg, and the Haldeman Diaries. Although flawed by grammatical and spelling errors, the Breaking of a President 1974, compiled by Marvin Miller, is also worth reading because it contains thumbnail personal histories of each of the players in the above volumes, and day-by-day breaking news of that era, with lots of pictures.
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Format: Paperback
This is pretty interesting material for Watergate buffs. When Watergate broke the idea that a President cursed and had a private persona shocked the American people. That disappointment is part of what led to Nixon's downfall, regardless of what the Nixon haters want to keep preaching about Nixon's criminality. It has also come to light since those years that, as Nixon Claimed, Presidents before him used their power, the FBI, the IRS, and other agencies to look into and intimidate their opponents. Yes, Johnson and Kennedy did what Nixon did. They just didn't get all of it on tape. Nor did they have the press wanting the get even for Alger Hiss (who really was a Communist agent - see Venona).

For me the most fascinating part of the tapes included in this book is to go in the index and read the segments about Mark Felt, who we now know was Deep Throat for Bob Woodward. It is clear from these transcripts that Nixon and his staff knew that Felt wanted to top job at the FBI, that they didn't trust him, that they knew he leaked to the NY Times and, most amazingly, to the Washington Post. Haldeman makes it explicitly clear on 170 & 171 that he knew from inside the Washington Post that it was Felt leaking to the Post reporters. Facsinating.

Just remember, if you were taped in your private moments, you wouldn't look to the world as you do now. You might not be as dark as Nixon comes across, but then you aren't trying to wield power on a world stage either. I am not a Nixon apologist. Rather, I am taking a broader view of what we have learned since 1975 about our Presidents, the Presidency, and how they used their power while in office. The saying is true about politics and sausage making.
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