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The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It Hardcover – July 29, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (July 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025367
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.7 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Mr. Dean’s book will remind people of why Nixon deserves so unflattering a historical reputation . . . It should also serve as a renewed cautionary tale about elevating politicians with questionable character to high office . . . Dean’s resolve to reconstruct this dismal tale of high crimes and misdemeanors is commendable . . . . In addition to creating a definitive historical record of how the Watergate scandal unfolded, The Nixon Defense resolves some major unsettled questions.”
—Robert Dallek, The New York Times 

“Dean, as always the model of precision and doggedness, has performed yeoman service . . . even for someone who has covered Watergate for 42 years, from the morning of the burglary through the investigations, confessions, denials, hearings, trials, books and attempts at historical revisionism, Dean’s book has an authoritative ring.”
—Bob Woodward, The Washington Post 
 

“A prodiguous effort.” 
New York Daily News 
 

“Dean shapes those conversations into a readable, dense narrative.”
Los Angeles Times 

“The most intimate, detailed, complex and nuanced portrait of a President and his courtiers that we have ever seen in print . . . Dean is scrupulously fair, but Nixon is undone by his own words. To read them is to be a fly on the wall in the palace court of the Nixon White House, to observe history close up as we have never seen it before . . . the closest we will ever come to knowing the real Richard Nixon. It is a fascinating and very important piece of history, and the stuff of great drama.”
Huffington Post 

About the Author

John W. Dean was legal counsel to president Nixon during the Watergate scandal, and his Senate testimony helped lead to Nixon’s resignation. In 2006, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating George W. Bush’s NSA warrantless wiretap program. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Blind Ambition, Broken Government, Conservatives Without Conscience, and Worse Than Watergate.

Customer Reviews

Too many redundant conversations on the same topic.
Stan
There are a lot of questions that get answered in this book.
Kristi Richardson
An essential Watergate book by a key player John W Dean..
C. M Mills

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Kristi Richardson on August 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I am a Watergate junkie. I watched the proceedings on television nightly and read the newspapers and columnists and 60 minutes religiously. This book helps bring all of my personal experiences back to me and Mr. Dean gets a chance to tell the rest of the story.

Mr. Dean points out that not all of the tapes in the White House were transcribed by the end of the Watergate hearings and he personally went to work on them the last ten years with assistants to help him so that he could put to rest in his own mind what the President knew and when he knew it.

There are a lot of questions that get answered in this book. It seems the White House was pretty sure the entire time who Deep Throat was and they believed it was due to Mr. Felt's desire to be head of the FBI and not have to report to a non-FBI political appointee. This could just be the bias of Mr. Dean and the White House so I take that part with a large grain of salt.

I found it very interesting the accolades Dean was given by the President and Haldeman and Ehrlichman in the early tapes and how they turned on him when they knew he was going to testify.

He also gives us a deeper understanding of what the burglars were doing at the Watergate after all these years. Obsession was something Mr. Nixon was very good at.

The 18 1/2 minute gap is explored and the plausible explanation on what was on this tape and who did the actual erasing is shared in the second Appendix of this volume.

I would recommend Mr. Dean's previous book of Blind Ambition as a companion piece to this book. This is a great follow up to the former tome as there is a lot more information available than was at the time of the first book's publication.
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43 of 52 people found the following review helpful By nceylon on August 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'm enjoying this book tremendously. Not a good choice for someone unfamiliar with Watergate. I've been reading about Watergate since I was in high school, I've read the accounts by Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Colson, Magruder, Liddy, Nixon, as well as Dean's other books, and this book provides more insight in the complex issues of Watergate than anything I've read previously.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By webwiz99 on August 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is well researched and quotes endless tapes
where the various characters reveal themselves
to be liars. It is tedious to read because, as
one would expect office talk about an evolving
"big problem," the same topics, almost the same
sentences are ground out again and again.

Dean says Nixon was obsessive and that is certainly
clear. The text, of which most of us know the gist,
if not the detail that Dean offers, is analogous to
a sore that gets larger and larger and is picked at
all the time, making evident a gross illness of
duplicity that is even now, revolting and a scandal.

This repetition is not Mr. Dean's fault as a writer.
Actually it reveals the further depths of illegality
and deception to which they all resort. It is the
situation of writing a book of this sort.

It surprised me how long Nixon was kept in the dark
about what was happening. The top staff members were lying
to each other and to him. In the beginning, he thought
the break-in it was just a stupid effort to bug the
Democratic offices ---and notice of it should be tamped down.

Then he saw the responsibilities and knowledge going higher
and higher among his staff ---- and that the burglars had
participated in many other illegal efforts on his behalf.
And, if this were discovered, he and all the staff would be
radically compromised.

The need for cover up escalated. When he finally realized
the complexity of the whole scene and who was involved, he
was immediately willing to perjure himself.

It reminds me of our present Congress, doing
and saying whatever it takes to get themselves
re-elected and not using their time and talents
to serve the people
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By William Bonner on August 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just finished the Kindle version of this riveting book. As a young lawyer myself just a year younger than John Dean, I was fascinated by the Watergate hearings and all that lead up to Dean's testimony in 1973. His command of his own notes and recollection of events challenged me to question whether he had access to tapes of the events testified about. I read his first book on the events, "Blind Ambition" and vowed that I would not be seduced by the siren song of access to power, but would stand for what is right. This book is a proper follow-up some forty year later. It shows that Dean spent a tremendous amount of time reviewing tapes and transcripts, but even then he could not always make out what was said in certain instances.

Luckily, he does not overly engage in self-justification, but there are so many murky conversations in which the primary actors hinted at, but did not spell out their true intentions, that Dean had to infer from the context what was meant. Although he acknowledges lots of help, including checking for typographic errors and missing words, there are a number of such instances, particularly towards the end when editing deadlines were upon him.

This is a valuable contribution to historians in the next generation who will be dissecting Nixon's legacy in American politics.
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