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Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate Paperback – Bargain Price, June 6, 2000

3.3 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There are two ways to look at this bestseller by Watergate scoopmeister Woodward. First, it's an original take on Clinton's sex scandal, framing it as the latest consequence of Nixon's assault on the U.S. political system. Woodward sketches each president's tussles with scandal managing after Watergate permanently turned up the press heat on the White House. Ford lies about a meeting concerning a potential deal to pardon Nixon, but remains convinced he did nothing wrong. Carter's pious advocacy of truth telling backfires when he's confronted with conundrums involving his pal Bert Lance, the fallout from CIA-provided hookers, and cash for King Hussein. Reagan's men try to make him understand the lies and shocking wrongness of the Iran-Contra debacle, but he simply, stubbornly doesn't get it. And by the time prosecutors interview Reagan in 1992, he's so ill he can't remember his own oldest friends and advisers.

All provocative stuff, some of it new. But most readers will flip to the book's second half, a fly-on-the-wall account of the backroom mud-wrestling in both the Clinton and Starr camps in the Monicagate morass. It's a trove of racy facts (mostly from anonymous sources). We read that Clinton called Nixon a "war criminal," yet tried to minimize Watergate in his Nixon eulogy, that he disgusted Ford and Jack Nicklaus by cheating while golfing with them, and that he kept falsely assuring aides, "I'm retired! [as an adulterer]." We hear Hillary's alleged words of agony and see the pain on Bill's face after Chelsea reads The Starr Report on the Internet. Starr comes off like RoboCop without the human side. Woodward calls him "pathetic and unwise" in rejecting his staff's urgent demand not to send the lurid details of presidential sex to Congress. "I love the narrative!" Starr weirdly exulted, according to Woodward's new Deep Throat (or Throats). Since Monica was interrogated at Starr's mother-in-law's apartment, which he called "Grandma's place," ethics expert Sam Dash suggested they call it "Operation Red Riding Hood." What sharp teeth everyone in this book has!

To tell the truth, Woodward doesn't really knit together 25 years' worth of scandals into a single strong narrative. But the Clinton part is the closest thing yet to what we all crave: a tale of Monicagate with some of the flavor of a John Grisham thriller. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this best seller, veteran Washington Post reporter Woodward traces the impact that President Nixon's Watergate scandal has had on his five successors. Woodward presents an introduction, and then reader James Naughton takes over in a youthful voice somewhat similar to the author's own. Woodward's argument is that the fallout from the Watergate scandal has changed the political climate in Washington and affected both incumbents and candidates in various ways. Gerald Ford, for example, found his incumbency tarred by the pardon he issued Nixon, and many believe he lost the election for that reason; Jimmy Carter felt compelled to say that he would never lie to the American people and was embarrassed when he could not sustain the fiction; Ronald Reagan was unaffected until the Iran-contra scandal broke; George Bush seemed unaware that the media could turn on him once Desert Storm was behind him and could not handle the results; and Bill Clinton entered scandal after scandal and made many of the same errors of dissimulation that Nixon did and barely survived, being only the second president in history to be impeached. The common thread throughout these years was, in part, the altered attitude of the press, which at one time overlooked behaviors that now are the targets of aggressive investigative reporting. Presidential privacy in particular has faded with the times, and Woodward describes its continued erosion. Students of modern politics should find this presentation engaging. The author's persona is so authoritative and his knowledge of the subjects so deep that the listener learns a great deal. For public library and undergraduate collections.
-Don Wismer, Cary Memorial Lib., Wayne, ME
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Touchstone ed edition (June 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684852632
  • ASIN: B001O9CH34
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,372,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Hilde Bygdevoll on March 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Bob Woodward's "Shadow - Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate" is an insightful book about how the Watergate scandal affected the presidencies of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton. Politics and scandals have gone hand in hand all through US history, but it was the Watergate scandal that became the example of scandal so great that it could actually cause the downfall of the US presidency.
In the first part of the book, Woodward discusses the effects after the Watergate scandal, and how it has influenced the oval office. The Watergate scandal obviously affected the two presidents closest in time, Ford and Carter, the most. President Ford, because he pardoned Nixon (and the uproar that followed doing so), and Carter, whose promise of change, his promise of total ethics ["I will never lie to you"], stood in great contrast to the scandals involving Bert Lance and Hamilton Jordan. Discussed is also the Reagan and Bush's Iran-Contra scandal, including all of the details and questions regarding what Reagan evidently knew (or didn't). The second half of the book is almost exclusively devoted to the apparently endless scandals and moral blunders of the Clinton Administration, with particular emphasis on the Lewinsky scandal. Quite frankly, the first and second half of the book are like two different books. I found the first part of the book to be incredibly interesting, and then the second part, to be... well, "just another Lewinsky book"... But I did find the details which shows us how the Clinton-Starr battle(s) turned personal to be very interesting (and frightening). Woodward shows us how the Independent council has almost become a monster of its' own, no longer controllable by any political branch or office!
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Format: Hardcover
Ok, I admit it; I am a big fan of Woodward. I will read everything he puts out and probably enjoy it. With that being said here is another book of his that I will profess to really enjoying. For my money he is the best political writer in the business today. He has so many contacts that many times in reading the book you could swear he has the White House bugged. This book tries to tie in the Presidents sense "Tricky Dick" and draw a parallel to how they have all had some form of a "scandal" during there terms. With my professed admiration for Woodward it pains me to say this, but the premise does not really work in the book.
He details the issues each of the Presidents have faced but he really does not tie them together in the way I think he wanted to, which is that the power and complexity of the President almost assures a problem. Where I think he could have tied the theory together is that the press is all after the next "issue gate", and they more then anyone drive this issue of scandal journalism.
With this being said, you get all the standard Woodward items with the book, great details, wonderful he said - she said conversations that really make you feel like a fly on the wall, an easy to follow and well laid out book. The real gems of the book are the details of how the Reagan and Bush Presidencies handled Iran - Contra and what is probably the best record of the last two years of the Clinton scandal Fest and "Monica-gate". This is an interesting book that I really enjoyed. If you like Woodward you will like this book, if you are interested in Iran - Contra or the last two years of the Clinton presidency then this is also a good source of information.
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Format: Hardcover
There is no doubt that Bob Woodward, author of "All the President's Men" and famed Washington Post reporter, is a highly talented writer with terrific connections throughout Washington D.C. Those qualities make "Shadow" fascinating reading, particularly with respect to Woodward's take on the various scandals that have swirled around the Clinton Presidency (i.e., Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate, and Monica Lewinsky). This is a compulsively readable work.
At the same time, there is an air of suspicion about Woodward's sourcing. Who did he talk to to get the quotes he got? For example, on page 360, he recounts a conversation among President Clinton, Bruce Lindsey, and Bob Bennett about an evidentiary ruling by Judge Wright in the Paula Jones matter. Bennett supposedly says, "The key thing is, don't go in and perjure yourself."
Who is Woodward's source for this reporting? The endnotes state "Author's interviews with knowledgeable sources." Other than Clinton, Bennett, and Lindsey, who could be knowledgeable about the conversation? It is highly unlikely that Clinton was the source, and Lindsey and Bennett are both attorneys; for them to disclose the contents of the conversation would breach the attorney-client privilege and would constitute a great ethical lapse.
Yet, the conversation has an authentic feel to it. It sounds right. But Woodward's questionable sourcing, which dates back to "The Final Days," rears its ugly head here. Throughout entire passages that sound like they really happened, the reader is left wondering, How does Woodward know this?
In summary, I wouldn't pay full price for this book, but it is worth a few dollars if you can find it in a remaindered pile or a bargain section.
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