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Blind Ambition: The White House Years Hardcover – November 8, 1976

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 8, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671224387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671224387
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 23.1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a well-written book, giving unparalleled glimpses into the Nixon White house and the character of its denizens. Dean, a controversial and not very admirable character, reveals many truths in this book, some really hair-raising to a naive believer in the virtues of government. He also provides many fascinating details, such as the constant rearrangement of offices and furniture in the White House to reflect internal political standings. Though surprisingly candid about his own personal flaws, he does paint himself in a more sympathetic light than is merited. Nevertheless, the overall candor and truth of his reports stands in contrast to those of other eyewitnesses. The controversial and revealing nature of his narrative is marked by the remarkable divergence of opinion seen in reviews of this book; a hard core of Nixon ideologues will hate Dean forever.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1970 John Dean was interviewed as the next counsel to the President; a little over four years later he was in jail. He rose, and fell, by being a willing servant. Dean's office was the center of Nixon's intelligence operation (lawyers have client confidentiality). His story was recreated from documents and taped conversations. Dean was working for the Justice Dept. when he was asked about working at the White House by Bud Krogh. John Mitchell advised him that the WH "was not a healthy place" (p.12). (Was this relatively young lawyer recruited to be a future fall guy?) The expenses for the San Clemente complex had been safely buried in inconspicuous budgets (p.16). Dean joined the WH, and soon learned "to keep my mouth shut" (p.23). Dean learned how interior decorating kept political scores (pp.29-30)! He also learned how to move upwards in influence by traveling downward through power plays, corruption, and outright crimes (p.30). Just as he made it to the top, he actually touched bottom.
Dean's education began when he read the "Huston Plan", which removed most legal restraints on wiretaps, mail intercepts, and burglaries. J. Edgar hoover vetoed the plan - the risk was greater than the reward (or turf protection?). More mundane matters are listed on pages 39-40. Page 45 tells of his first liability over a burglary. Page 51 tells how Erlichman won his power struggle against Mitchell. The Dita Beard letter is discussed on pages 53-59. J. Edgar Hoover said it was genuine, another action that infuriated the Nixon WH. The next liability was hiding the Town House Operation (pp.59-62). By May 1972 the ITT scandal ended and Kleindienst was confirmed; it looked like the end of the problems. Chapter 3 tells of the Howard Hughes affair.
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By A Customer on June 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Dean's book is hard to put down. I've read it twice and enjoyed it both times. What makes it so fascinating is the way in which it is so easy to see how a young ambitious lawyer could find himself in such a situation. Dean implicates himself as well as many others and provides a real feeling for what it must have been like in the White House during those years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It may seem strange that just after ordering a new copy of "Blind Ambition" by John Dean, today, that I am writing a review.

Actually, I have the paperback edition and have read it several times. I wanted the hardback for the larger print size.

This is an excellent book, not just for taking the reader behind the scenes of Watergate, but for displaying the true personality of Richard Nixon.
The description that Dean gives of Nixon throughout the book corroborates the statements by Bob Haldeman and John Erlichman.

Blind Ambition is a tale of a President obsessed with only one goal - to make sure he got re-elected.
Richard Nixon was a man of insecurity and self-doubt, and these traits were strongly reinforced when Nixon lost the 1962 California governorship to incumbent Edmund G. "Pat" Brown.

It was Lawrence O'Brien, who was responsible for leaking about the Howard Hughes loan to Nixon's brother, Donald, that played a part in the 1962 loss of election to Governor.

Now, O'Brien was National Chairman of the Democratic National Party. Nixon worried about what "goods" O'Brien had on him now. Thus, the DNC Headquarters at the Watergate Complex were broken into; a third-rate burglary was turned into a major cover-up along with other crimes and White House horrors.

The discouraging remark to add to the above is, after you read this excellent book, you should try to see the TV-made movie, based on the book. The movie was well done, with Rip Torn playing Nixon, and doing the best job of anyone I have seen.

Unfortunately, no commercial version of the movie was released. It was a 4-part miniseries. Once-and-awhile,
the channels of STARZ shows it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Assuming you take the portrayal at face value, allowing for a small admixture of self-service and exageration, this book is a must-read. You will learn a ton about the workings of the Nixon White House in general; and in particular, the cover up in response to the Warergate scandal. There's nothing like an insider's perspective to portray the (not very attractive) human element in such large historical processes.

After I stumbled across a claim that Dean testified that most of the book is grossly inaccurate, I read a few other hostile critiques. Most of them are written by people with an axe to grind. My common sense tells me that the book is mostly plausible. I mean, Dean sets out to draw himself as a weakling, lacking in integrity and a sycophantic coward. Not sure why he would take this angle unless he just wanted to make a clean breast of things. I mean, he'd already been convicted of obstruction of justice and sent to prison. What would he have to gain by distorting events at such a late date?

Anyways read it and decide for yourself.
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