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Watergate: A Novel
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on June 2, 2016
Quite by accident I picked up Mr. Mallon's Finale last month and thoroughly enjoyed the book. I immediately followed with Watergate and was far from disappointed. Mr Mallon seems to capture the essence of each complex historical character and because I felt so keenly their humanity, even those whom I'd thought to be villainous, came to life as likable. Most even lovable,though I doubt this was his intention. My first thought on finishing Watergate was find another book by this author.
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on July 20, 2017
Captivating. And so relevant right now. For those of us who lived through Watergate, the novel provides further understanding of that era and gives insight into what is happening today. For other readers, it is an invaluable history lesson and more.
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VINE VOICEon April 20, 2012
When reading and writing reviews of historical novels, I always try to keep in mind that novel is the crucial word, and never more so than in the case of Watergate: A Novel. The author makes it clear in the title that it is a fictional treatment of the break-in of Democratic Headquarters that ultimately lead to the resignation of President Richard M Nixon in 1974. The author makes extensive use of conversations between, and interior musings of, principal characters, most especially First Lady Pat Nixon; Nixon's secretary Rose Mary Woods; the elderly but still acid-tongued Alice Roosevelt Longworth; and Watergate bagman Fred LaRue that are fictional. The president himself and others, including Elliot Richardson, make periodic appearances as well, but it is the first four who take center stage.

The author in his afterword states that he took the most liberties with the life of Fred LaRue, but I find that he took equal liberties with Pat Nixon as well, giving her a fictional lover that she met while dining alone in a restaurant in New York City a few years before the opening of the novel. I would like to think that the late First Lady actually had such an experience, as it might have made up for much that was apparently lacking in her relationship with her husband as it appeared to outsiders over the years. Did Pat Nixon feel anger towards her husband, as this book indicates, or was it the total invention of the author? Woods comes across as the traditional devoted secretary that she appeared to be in newspaper accounts at the time, but with flashes of humor and decided opinions on members of the president's staff (hated Halderman, loved Haig, for example). LaRue is a total sad-sack, and quite frankly I found myself skimming some of the sections where he was the featured player, especially when it concerned his personal life.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth is probably, next to Pat Nixon, the most interesting of the featured players. The author convinces me that the tart-tongued Longworth may indeed have had a soft-spot for the president due to his special treatment of her when her only child, Paulina, died at her own hand. Elliot Richardson comes across as a Charles Emerson Winchester III clone, with little credit given to him for his resignation for refusing to fire Archibald Cox, while former Attorney General John Mitchell is seen as an isolated Howard Hughes-type character, withering under the lights. His wife Martha is shown in all her glory as the pathetic alcoholic she appeared to be during that time period.

As indicated above, at times the book drags, particularly in the sections dealing with LaRue, while the sections featuring Pat Nixon and the president never fail to fascinate. In my opinion, this book presumes a familiarity with Watergate and the players that is necessary for a balanced view of the break-in and its aftermath -- the information presented is entirely from the point of view of the insiders and we get nothing from the Washington Post reporters, for example, who broke the story and kept on it until the president resigned. Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham put in token appearances and are seen as negative figures by the administration insiders. Keeping in mind while reading that this is a novel is important, as one would not want to base one's entire knowledge of Watergate on it.
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on September 3, 2015
A sympathetic Nixon. In fact, sympathetic Watergate burglars. And a pox on the houses of the mendacious journalists and Democrat pols who ran the coup that caused him to resign and them to suffer disproportionate prison sentences from a judge who was encouraged to overstep by getting his picture on the cover of Time magazine. All of whose canonization has lately been questioned by historians. And of course it's as well written as Mr. Mallon's other books, such as Henry and Clara, with rich characterizations of even minor figures. You do have to remember the Watergate details because he doesn't go into many of them. But with Google and Wikipedia you're home free. Worth your time and money.
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on April 11, 2014
I was born just as Nixon was leaving the White House, so my understanding of Watergate was limited. Even after 40 years, we still put 'gate' after every scandal, or alleged scandal.

I very much enjoyed this book. It felt like I was reading an entertaining history lesson. I know this is an historical novel, but I believe the core of the book to be factual. One reason it took me a while to read this book is that I kept going over to Wikipedia to get even more information about many of the characters. I wanted to see what happened to them post Watergate - where did they go, what did they do, how much time did they spend in the slammer.

So much in the world changed because of Nixon. Ford likely lost because of his pardon of Nixon, the conservative Reagan beats Carter in 1980, trust in government vanished, and it all started with a 3rd rate burglary.

If you enjoy a good novel where you learn a little something about the past, I recommend this book for you.
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on May 17, 2016
Difficult to realize that this is a work of fiction. Details are so clear; reads more like a historical recounting.
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on May 15, 2016
It was a very interesting and well crafted novel.
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on July 17, 2015
Wonderful characterization and interior monologue, rendered well, from many points of view. Main focus is on the co-conspirators: Hunt, the President, Larue - as well as the First Lady and Rose Woods, plus the delightfully witty and wise Alice Longworth.

Plotting is superb: the main events pass by quickly, as if offstage, leaving room for personal and private moments. Some minor mysteries are raised and some are "solved".

Cameo appearances galore! Plenty of surprises for history buffs. This brought back many memories.
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on March 12, 2012
I guess I can be defined as a "Watergator". Having read almost every book on subject after the ocurrence and then those that followed, my friends and I would challenge each other in a game of trivia regarding the scandal. We got pretty good at citing events and people involved in what was truly sad event in American history. Yet,regardless of his shortfalls, I have always been a fan of President Nixon and was permitted an opportunity to speak with him one-on-one shortly before his passing. Given the behavior of modern politicians, I wonder how our society would view Watergate today? Mr. Mallon gives us a second chance by reinvigorating interest it what seems like ancient history to so many, albeit in the form of a novel. I was entranced by his ability to enter the minds of those involved and expand on theories and rumors that still have many of us guessing. Looking back, our country "weathered the storm" not knowing then that it would be faced with far worse in the decades ahead. So, Watergate: The Novel is fun read while being informative in its own way. Highly recommended. I dare the reader to put it down!
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on July 9, 2015
What a wonderful recreation of a time every American over fifty must feel they lived through as participants. Whether you were there or not, this very kind, humorous and intriguing novel will make you feel you were.
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