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Watergate In American Memory: How We Remember, Forget, And Reconstruct The Past Paperback – November 17, 1993


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Watergate In American Memory: How We Remember, Forget, And Reconstruct The Past + Covering the Body: The Kennedy Assassination, the Media, and the Shaping of Collective Memory + The "Uncensored War": The Media and Vietnam
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (November 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465090834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465090839
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Multiple, conflicting versions of the Watergate scandal coexist in the public's collective memory, according to University of California sociologist Schudson. To leftists, the scandal was managed by establishment forces to preserve the national security state. The moderate-liberal version holds that "the system almost failed" and views Watergate as a crisis over presidential abuses of power, while conservatives identify a recklessly autonomous press as a threat to the social order. Published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters, this intensive, evenhanded academic study challenges "the myth of Watergate journalism," which holds that the press alone brought down Nixon. Using surveys, interviews and news clips, Schudson clarifies the meaning of Watergate as a social process of discovery and outrage, a constitutional crisis and a contribution to the public's political education.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

On the 20th anniversary of the Democratic headquarters break-in, has the Watergate perpetual publishing machine cranked out another play-it-again-Sam Ervin reprise? No! This engrossing overview shows how Watergate has evolved into part of our collective memory. Watergate, a cultural flashpoint rivaling the traumas of the John F. Kennedy assassination and the Challenger disaster, carries a legacy that includes an elevation of the journalism profession and the rise of Jimmy Carter based on a promise of clean government and his fall when he couldn't deliver. Ironically, the lessons of Watergate were cleverly and subliminally manipulated so that the players of Ronald Reagan's Iran- contra fiasco would not be prosecuted. This and an unassertive Congress allowed Reagan, whom Schudson sees as more deserving of impeachment than Nixon, to complete his second term while Nixon continued his struggle for rehabilitation. A provocative, controversial panorama of institutional Watergate, enthusiastically recommended for large public and academic collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/92.
- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp . Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on December 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Watergate crisis dominated national politics for the last quarter of the twentieth century, and indeed its effects are still persistent in national discourse. Witness the use of the term "gate" to characterize virtually every political scandal since that time; "Contragate" is only one such instance. Many have written books on the Watergate break-in and the toppling of President Richard Nixon as a result of the cover-up that followed. This book is different, however, sociologist Michael Schudson explores in this fine work how Americans have remembered the scandal and used it since 1972. Schudson investigates how the crisis's formidable shadow has affected public life since that time, using collective memory to map the various ways in which Watergate has informed the larger society. Eschewing postmodern theory, he offers an accessible and insightful analysis of history, memory, and culture, emphasizing how the various uses of Watergate in constructing the past emerged and suggests that "the past in highly resistant to efforts to make it over" (p. 206).

Schudson argues that any event opens certain paths of interpretation and closes other, but that those undertaking the interpretation may draw the meanings that they seek from the experience. At this level, these events offer a discontinuity with the past. At the same time, continuity reigns precisely because it is remembered in certain ways, and a timeline is constructed based on this remembrance, or as often as not its misremembrance. These condition the manner in which subsequent experiences and events are perceived by the various communities recollecting them. This suggests a wide divergence of lessons that may be drawn from any event, and we see it in how Watergate is perceived by the various groups who consider it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Janis L. Edwards on May 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I feel I must use this opportunity to review amazon.com's reviewing practices, which appear mechanistic. Otherwise, how can they highlight the one truly uninformed review as "the MOST helpful critical review" when only one out of 22 people found it helpful? Gadzooks! 1 out of 22 is not "most helpful" by any stretch, except as any review rated helpful by just one person is considered thus. And, by the way, excellent book, but not meant to be an encyclopedia of history for lazy, clueless teens, or an alternate reading to a novel such as "The Scarlet Letter." So maybe the teacher who devised the reading list (I infer) was the clueless one.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By AvidReader on January 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am using this book as a secondary source for an historical study on Watergate and the media. It is well written and informative. The author dispels several misconceptions about Watergate and provides several excellent examples.

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AND I MUST SAY.... To the 16-year-old reviewer (A Customer) that gave the book one star.....

Imagine one book not telling you absolutely everything you need to know about a specific subject. It is so hard to find and read other books or use an online encyclopedia to look up background information. On behalf of the academic community, I am so sorry you have experienced such trauma!

This review is a sad example of many students today. If any further action is required beyond sitting at a desk and breathing, it is too much effort. It is not only sad that this person does already know this piece of history, but it is sad to realize that this person expects others to do the thinking for him.
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