The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It [NOOK Book]

Overview

Based on Nixon’s overlooked recordings, New York Times bestselling author John W. Dean connects the dots between what we’ve come to believe about Watergate and what actually happened

Watergate forever changed American politics, and in light of the revelations about the NSA’s widespread surveillance program, the scandal has taken on new significance. Yet remarkably, four ...
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The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It

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Overview

Based on Nixon’s overlooked recordings, New York Times bestselling author John W. Dean connects the dots between what we’ve come to believe about Watergate and what actually happened

Watergate forever changed American politics, and in light of the revelations about the NSA’s widespread surveillance program, the scandal has taken on new significance. Yet remarkably, four decades after Nixon was forced to resign, no one has told the full story of his involvement in Watergate.

In The Nixon Defense, former White House Counsel John W. Dean, one of the last major surviving figures of Watergate, draws on his own transcripts of almost a thousand conversations, a wealth of Nixon’s secretly recorded information, and more than 150,000 pages of documents in the National Archives and the Nixon Library to provide the definitive answer to the question: What did President
Nixon know and when did he know it?

Through narrative and contemporaneous dialogue, Dean connects dots that have never been connected, including revealing how and why the Watergate break-in occurred, what was on the mysterious 18 1/2 minute gap in Nixon’s recorded conversations, and more.

In what will stand as the most authoritative account of one of America’s worst political scandals, The Nixon Defense shows how the disastrous mistakes of Watergate could have been avoided and offers a cautionary tale for our own time.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Robert Dallek
Mr. Dean's book will remind people of why Nixon deserves so unflattering a historical reputation, despite the opening to China and détente with the Soviet Union. It should also serve as a renewed cautionary tale about elevating politicians with questionable character to high office…Mr. Dean's resolve to reconstruct this dismal tale of high crimes and misdemeanors is commendable: It is important to recall that Nixon would have been impeached and convicted had he not resigned and possibly gone to prison without Ford's pardon. In addition to creating a definitive historical record of how the Watergate scandal unfolded, The Nixon Defense resolves some major unsettled questions.
Publishers Weekly
08/11/2014
The secret conversations of President Richard Nixon chronicle an unfolding scandal in intimate detail in this absorbing history of the Watergate cover-up. Dean (Blind Ambition), Nixon's White House counsel and a central figure in events, recaps hundreds of taped recordings of discussions between Nixon and his aides, many never before transcribed, on the brewing Watergate affair from the June, 1972 break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters to the July, 1973 dismantling of the recording system. The discussions transition quickly from confusion over the arrest of Nixon campaign operatives to an improvised plot to conceal the burglars' connections to the White House and other Nixon Administration misdeeds through a farrago of hush-money and perjury whose deceptions compound over time. Dean weaves deftly edited excerpts of dialogue and shrewd commentary into a densely detailed but very readable narrative of the conspiracy as its principals cobble it together. He's hardly a disinterested observer; much of the book centers on Nixon's "defense" against revelations Dean offered to investigators—, culminating in his sensational televised Senate testimony—, and is thus also Dean's defense of his own actions. Still, this is one of the best and fullest accounts of the Watergate cover-up, one that conveys in Nixon's own voice the casual criminality of his troubled presidency. (July 29)
Library Journal
02/01/2014
Legal counsel to President Richard Nixon, Dean draws on his own transcripts of nearly 1,000 conversations, information secretly recorded by the president, and extensive documents in the National Archives and the Nixon Library to explore the extent of Nixon's involvement in the Watergate scandal. The subtitle poses the crucial question. Just in time for the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation; with an eight-city tour.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-07-03
About that 18-and-a-half minutes oflost tape….In this 40th anniversary year ofRichard Nixon's gloomy evacuation of the White House, former staffer andever since bête noire Dean (Broken Government: HowRepublican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches,2007, etc.) defends himself against a category of accusation Tricky Dickfrequently leveled against him: "I'm not going to fire a guy on the basis of acharge made by Dean, who basically is trying to save his ass and get immunity,you see." Well, sure: Dean was and is no dummy, and he saw what was coming inthe grim swirl of the Watergate hearings, during which frequently named figuressuch as Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Hunt, Liddy, Mitchell and Dean himself becamehousehold names. By the author's account, Liddy—never likable but alwayshonorable, in his own way—took the fall for the foiled break-in and offered tohave himself shot on any street corner in Washington at the president'spleasure; the president declined, but he schemed and maneuvered in otherdirections. Sometimes, Dean notes, Nixon was brilliant in that maneuvering,turning potential losses into double-edged wins, usually Pyrrhic but stilldamaging to the opposition. This account, drawing on notes, scrawls on legalpads and transcripts of taped conversations, makes an odd but compelling strolldown Memory Lane for those who remember the time. Dean provides deft portraitsof the likes of the unctuous Kissinger, the exceedingly odd Al Haig ("he's alittle bit obnoxious and doesn't wear well with people, which would be goodfrom our point of view"), and Nixon himself. And as for that missing tape, theone about which so much was made at the Watergate hearings? It would spoil thesurprise to tell it here, but Dean has the answers. Essential to anyone's library ofNixoniana.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780698163461
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/29/2014
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 22,350
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

John W. Dean

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.
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Interviews & Essays

An Essay by John Dean

I wrote this book to understand how someone as politically savvy and intelligent as former President Richard Nixon could destroy his presidency over a bungled burglary and bugging at the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee. He was not personally responsible for this disaster, yet he became deeply involved in the cover up. He created a series of bogus defenses that ultimately ended his presidency.

Because I served as Nixon's White House counsel, not to mention my testimony was integral to his fall, I knew much of what was going on, but very little about what occurred behind the president's closed door. I did not deal with Nixon on Watergate until seven months after the June 17, 1972, arrests at the Watergate. When we started meeting, the cover up was in place, although it was starting to come apart. Among a number of other matters I had never understood was how and why Nixon developed his increasingly risky and fictitious defenses. In all these years no one had really examined or explained Nixon's behavior, notwithstanding the fact that the information is available. I knew it could be found in Nixon's secretly self-recorded conversations.

In proceeding I appreciated that gathering the information on his tapes would not be easy, otherwise it would already have been done. But only after I began this project did I grasp that it was a truly massive undertaking. To understand Nixon's Watergate related actions and activities it was necessary to track them day-by-day. When I started in 2009, no one had ever catalogued all the Watergate recordings, and when I did so I discovered some 600 conversations that no one outside the National Archives (where the tapes have been processed and stored) had likely ever heard them. And I also discovered the available transcripts of Watergate conversations were mostly only partial, often omitting information I found relevant and revealing. So in 2010, I decided I had to transcribe more than a thousand Nixon Watergate conversations to understand his role and tell that story.

As I explained in the book's preface, transcribing these recordings was extremely difficult and time-consuming. After I had done several dozen, I began recruiting graduate students to assist. I found it easier to correct someone else's transcript than to start from scratch. Nixon's recording system was very primitive. They sound much like police surveillance tapes, with the quality depending on where the speakers were located relative to the microphones hidden in his desks. All too often the person speaking was just out of range, making it difficult and sometimes all but impossible to transcribe. But with effort, most of them could be captured. This was not very pleasant work so there was inevitable turnover with my students, except for one young woman, a former legal secretary now completing her Ph.D. in archival science, who transcribed more than 500 conversations. Personally, I did about 250 of them, and the other students transcribed approximately 250 conversations. They range in length from less than a minute to many longer than three hours.

My deadlines for this book came and passed, for there was no way to really speed the process -- I was the bottleneck because I wanted to review the transcripts and there were not enough hours in the day. When the transcripts for Parts I, II, and III of the book were completed, I began writing, recasting the transcripts into narrative and dialogue, and supplementing the recorded conversations with other relevant material. (I have pulled thousands of additional pages of documents from the National Archives, as well as all relevant testimony and memoirs.) The first three parts of the book are based on roughly 300 Nixon conversations. In Part IV, which addresses the period when Nixon became intensely involved in Watergate, there are some 600 conversations, most of which are longer, not to mention often highly repetitive, making it all the more difficult to later compress the material into narrative and dialogue. To write Part IV, I had to overwrite it to see it all before trimming it back, but sending each part to my editor, Rick Kot, for his deft touch and further trimmings as I proceeded.

Researching and writing the book was a long process. Suffice it to say that without the talented and professional staff at Viking I could have never completed it by August 9, 2014, the fortieth anniversary of Nixon's resignation, which was our long held final target for publication. To make that date, I had transcribers working until 90 days before publication, and at times Viking had four copy editors working simultaneously on various parts. There is so much more to a book than an author producing a manuscript. The editing, copyediting, designing, indexing, and production -- not to mention the enhanced eBook that accompanies it -- really made this book. This undertaking was organized like a precision military maneuver. The end result for me is the most elegant I have ever authored.

This is my tenth book. Maybe my most important book for I recognize that I am uniquely situated to understand Nixon's conversations and report this long-ignored but not unimportant history. While the outlines of this story have been known, Nixon's recordings provide page after page of new information and new detail. Because these recordings are real-time, they allow me to report on the events as they were occurring, not as later recalled through the filter of memory. What I have discovered is more than what happened and why for I discovered true human drama that can be felt in these conversations. As I write this, pre-publication, I have only received limited feedback. But I thought one friend stated it nicely and succinctly: "It's like being a fly on the wall in the courts of Caesar, King George, the House of Borgia, or the Corleone crime family." While this story is not pretty, it is real. And I believe there is much more to learn from mistakes than successes, and there are no shortage of mistakes reported in this account.

I hope that you find this as engaging to read as it was to write.

The author invites readers to share reactions, or pose questions, through social media. He may be found on Twitter: @johnwdean

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2014

    Lightclaw

    He gets up and walks over to the fresh kill pile to get something to eat.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2014

    Isn t a defense lawyer suppose to keep quite about his client

    Or was this pro bono and for one who was in kindergarten then who was Dean and all those people? The only honest thing about this book was the remark to keep the pretty secretaries up front and keep rose and the rest in the back office. What happened to Rose? Did nixon have a dog? Page counter

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2014

    Hello earthclan sucks

    Just sayin

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2014

    Lilystar

    She dipped her head to Silverstar,"Please come to my lan and inform me when the answer is confirmed. Thank you for your time!" She padded out. ~Lilystar [EmberClan is at 'bumblebees' result 4, or 'Bumblebees are Contagious']

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    Soaringcloud, Wolfmist, Lightningfire, Enchantedpaw and little Maykit.

    Five cats pad in. Three are warriors, one is an aprentice, and the fifth is a small, runtish kit. The kit has orange fur, the aprentice has white and black fur.

    0 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    Spottedkit and Buzzardpaw

    A tiny tortiseshell she-kit with green eyes and white paws pads in. In front of her is a palish ginger tom. His amber eyes scan around. "My name is Buzzardpaw. This is Spottedkit. May e join?"

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    Posted August 10, 2014

    Tigerkit

    A tiny black she cat pads up to clan leader hhelllo

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2014

    Nightstorm to all

    Ok my light is dead. Will not be on till i get neww baterys for it. Bye

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 14, 2014

    Firepelt

    Eats deathberris

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    Posted August 10, 2014

    Firestar

    She padded in. "Would you like to be allies with Thistleclan?"

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    Posted August 12, 2014

    Fiercefire

    Walked in

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    Posted August 13, 2014

    Krestalflights

    Sh wentvoutvhunting.

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    Posted August 19, 2014

    Dawnfur

    Hullo

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    Posted August 12, 2014

    Bossclaw

    "Mmm."

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    Posted August 9, 2014

    FlightlessDove

    She glances at Emerald before sitting down and delicatly folding her long tail over her paws. Being half kittypet she did have some softer aspects.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    ViperLeaf

    K lets go! 'Land' res 3

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    Posted August 9, 2014

    Emerald

    Looks at red

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2014

    FROM ETHICS

    DONT POST ADS AT OUR HALF BLOOD CAMP!!! >:(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2014

    Silverstar to Saidy

    Um...

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    Posted September 26, 2014

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