Watergate

  • 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.

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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

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

Arlo Guthrie's Presidential Rag updated

Where does Watergate rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best. Highlighted all the many things I had forgotten. I was married on the day of the Watergate break in, so I have always been interested in Watergate. This book is a novel told from the inside not like All The President's Men which was told by outsiders.
Wonderful narration, great voices without caricature.
Great characters, humanizes the people involved without forgiving them their sins.


What did you like best about this story?

The great characterizations. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Mrs. Dorothy Hunt, and Fred LaRue are probably my favorites. A great refresher course on the craziness of Watergate.


Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

Fred LaRue was a tragic figure. He lived with the knowledge that he had accidently killed his father and was a true Southern gentleman. He was loyal and did his best to help


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but it was way too long to listen to in one sitting. I did listen to the last 4 hours in one sitting though.


Any additional comments?

Presidential Rag by Arlo Guthrie
You said you didn't know,
that the cats with the bugs were there,
and you never go along with that kind of stuff no where,
but that just isn't the point man,
that's the wrong wrong way to go,
if you didn't know about that one, well then what else don't you know,
You said that you were lied to,
well that aint hard too see,
but you must have been fooled again by your friends across the sea,
and maybe you were fooled again by your people here at home,
because nobody could talk like you,
and know what's going on,
Nobody elected your family,
and we didn't elect your friends,
no one voted for your advisors,
and nobody wants amends,
You're the one we voted for, so you must take the blame,
For handing out authority to men who were insane,
You say its all fixed up now, you've got new guys on the line,
but you had better remember this while you still got the time,
Mothers still are weeping for their boys that went to war,
father still are asking what the whole damn thing was for,
and People still are hungry and people still are poor,
And an honest week of work these days don't feed the kids no more,
Schools are still like prisons,
cuz we don't learn how to live,
and everybody wants to take, nobody wants to give,
Yes you will be remembered, be remembered very well,
and if I live a long life, all the stories I could tell,
A many who are in in poverty of sickness and of grief,
hell yes,
you will be remembered, be remembered very well,
You said you didn't know,
that the that the cats with the bugs were there,
You'd never go along with that kind of stuff no where
But that just isn't the point man,
That's the wrong ,wrong way to go,
You didn't know about that one,
well then what else don't you know.

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- Kristi Richardson

Book Details

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