• by Thomas Mallon
  • Narrated by Joe Barrett
  • 15 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From one of our most esteemed historical novelists comes a remarkable retelling of the Watergate scandal, as seen through a kaleidoscope of its colorful perpetrators and investigators.
For all the monumental documentation that Watergate generated - uncountable volumes of committee records, court transcripts, and memoirs - it falls at last to a novelist to perform the work of inference (and invention) that allows us to solve some of the scandal’s greatest mysteries - who did erase those eighteen-and-a-half minutes of tape? - and to see this gaudy American catastrophe in its human entirety. In Watergate, Thomas Mallon conveys the drama and high comedy of the Nixon presidency through the urgent perspectives of seven characters we only thought we knew before now. Praised by Christopher Hitchens for his “splendid evocation of Washington,” Mallon achieves with Watergate a scope and historical intimacy which surpasses even that attained in his previous novels and turns a “third-rate burglary” into tumultuous, first-rate entertainment.
Thomas Mallon is the author of the novels Henry and Clara, Dewey Defeats Truman, and Fellow Travelers, among others. He has been literary editor of Gentleman’s Quarterly and is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and the Atlantic, as well as other publications.


What the Critics Say

“Mallon, astute and nimble, continues his scintillating, morally inquisitive journey through crises great and absurd in American politics by taking on Watergate… Mallon himself is deliciously witty. But it is his political fluency and unstinting empathy that transform the Watergate debacle into a universal tragicomedy of ludicrous errors and malignant crimes, epic hubris and sorrow.” (Booklist)
“If ever a historical event was worthy of a comic novel, it’s Watergate, and Mallon, with several outstanding historical novels to his credit, has the skills to write it. What a cast of characters we meet!… Mallon writes with such swagger that it all seems new again. A sure winner, for its subject and Mallon’s proven track record as a historical novelist, and because it’s good.” (Library Journal)
“Revisiting the history of the ’70s with our favorite cast of characters… While billed as a novel, this book reads more like a documentary of a fascinating yet unlamented time.” (Kirkus Reviews)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

very funny and not at all pedantic

Unlike most comedic novels, this one doesn't wear thin in parts OR go "over the top" to get laughs --it's a consistently good narrative and consistently funny.

It's not pretending to be history, but the author transmits the history of the events effortlessly - I would listen to any historical fiction he writes, no matter the topic. Some will dislike or dispute the portrait of historical characters, but they are all so human, I just want to read their biographies after his playful introduction to their roles in the tragicomedy - and I had absolutely no interest in Watergate before this listen.

The Alice Longworth Roosevelt character is remarkable - She could stare down The Right Honourable Violet Crawley, Countess of Grantham! Whatever truth to her portrait in this novel, she will be my first biographical follow-up project.

The narrator is excellent, toeing the line between impersonation and lively narration without going overboard.

I downloaded this for the social history of the period but am now interested in Watergate itself. Laugh while you learn!
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- connie "Narrative makes the world go round."

A great listen

An intriguing tour-de-force. Mallon retraces the path of the Watergate conspiracy, but at a somewhat oblique angle. Most of the characters are based on (or at least named after!) real people, many of them major players in the burglary or the coverup. The novel is written from multiple points of view; the most extensive POV characters are all safely dead and beyond the reach of their lawyers, but I'm not sure they would care - Mallon applies an even-handed and deeply compassionate brush to everyone. Even Nixon comes off as a human being, and Pat Nixon is given an especially sympathetic treatment.

The obliqueness of the narrative becomes more obvious as it progresses. Time and again, we see the lead-up to important milestones in the coverup, or the aftermath, but we don't see the actual events themselves. The only direct contact we have with the Senate Watergate hearings is when Alice Roosevelt Longworth - Teddy's daughter and one of the major POV characters - attends a morning of John Dean's testimony. At another point, late in the unfolding crisis, we see Nixon listening to the tape of the infamous June 23rd meeting with Haldeman, but it's a retrospective moment: the "real-time" narrative of that date, earlier in the book, skips the meeting entirely.

The effectiveness of this depends on what you were hoping to find. As an old hand at Watergate lore, I was hoping for a more dramatic rendition of the key events. I was initially disappointed, but Mallon gradually won me over with his attention to detail and his provocative and totally believable characterizations. The main POV characters - Longworth, Howard Hunt, Fred LaRue, Rose Mary Woods, Pat Nixon, and Nixon himself - would be fascinating even they weren't, however tangentially, caught up in one of the biggest scandals ever to engulf the US government. Hunt's life in particular has the makings of a real tragedy.

Joe Barrett's gravelly narration is perfectly adapted to the quiet introspection of much of the novel. And yes, his impression of Nixon is spot on.
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- Tad Davis

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-21-2012
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.