Watergate: A New History

Avid Reader. Feb. 2022. 800p. ISBN 9781982139162. $30. HIST
Journalist Graff (The Only Plane in the Sky) endeavors to retell the complete story of the June 17, 1972, Watergate break-in, a breach of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters during the U.S. presidential campaign, which was followed by the Nixon administration’s attempt to cover up its involvement. Readers recognize that the metonym “Watergate” connotes clandestine and sometimes illegal use of departments of the federal government (FBI, CIA, and IRS), as well as other political charges. Graff admits that his newly published book, like others, leaves unanswered who ordered the DNC break-in, whether the goal was political information or extortion, and Deep Throat’s motive for cooperating with the Washington Post. As he tells, consequences included temporary changes in campaign financing, momentary curbs on executive power, and no subsequent recording of presidential conversations in the Oval Office. Based on existing primary and extensive secondary sources—the Nixon administration is one of the most documented in history—but no new interviews, this book succeeds in reprising the facts for those general readers unacquainted with them. Practicing historians will already recognize many of the incidents.
VERDICT The 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in in 2022 will undoubtedly witness an abundance of books with which to compare this work.
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