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review 2019-01-10 21:07
The Last of the President's Men by Bob Woodward
The Last of the President's Men - Bob Woodward

Date Published: October 13, 2015

Format: Hardcover

Source: RAFL Liberty Library

Date Read: January 3-5, 2019

2019 Nixon Reading List

 

Blurb:

Bob Woodward exposes one of the final pieces of the Richard Nixon puzzle in his new book The Last of the President’s Men. Woodward reveals the untold story of Alexander Butterfield, the Nixon aide who disclosed the secret White House taping system that changed history and led to Nixon’s resignation. In forty-six hours of interviews with Butterfield, supported by thousands of documents, many of them original and not in the presidential archives and libraries, Woodward has uncovered new dimensions of Nixon’s secrets, obsessions and deceptions.

The Last of the President’s Men could not be more timely and relevant as voters question how much do we know about those who are now seeking the presidency in 2016—what really drives them, how do they really make decisions, who do they surround themselves with, and what are their true political and personal values?

 

Review

Butterfield's role was the outsider turned insider that never felt like or was treated as a true insider. Maybe that's why he had no problem throwing down the most important piece in the Watergate investigation - the fact that there was a recording system in the Oval Office. Butterfield didn't have the loyalty to the Republican party or Nixon specifically, so when asked the right question, he had no qualms about spilling all the knowledge about the tapes. 

 

This is Butterfield's story, starting from his time as the military aide to the US ambassador in Australia wanting to get back to Vietnam to command an USAF wing or to go to the Pentagon/White House as a military advisor. Unfortunately Alexander Haig got the ear of Haldeman first, so Haig was named as military advisor; however, Haldeman had another role for Butterfield to fill and Butterfield accepted the position and retired from the military to be a White House aide, directly working for Haldeman and Nixon. It was Butterfield's task with getting the recording system in place via the CIA IT department. 

 

Butterfield had no love for Nixon then or now. Nixon was an awkward, rude, paranoid, emotionally unstable man-child and was out for vengeance against anyone who ever slighted him. Butterfield's discussion of the Nixon marriage was something new to me, but seems right in line with Nixon's relationship with anyone. Poor Pat Nixon, being married to a guy who had no problem neglecting her/emotionally passive-aggressive on a daily basis. There was only a slight mention of Spiro Agnew and that was when Agnew was banished to the far side of office buildings as per Nixon's direct orders....the relationship between president and vice-president was almost non-existent. Nixon's relationship with Henry Kissinger on the other hand got several (short) chapters. There is also an account of Nixon making an awkward intimate pass on a White House secretary while traveling from Camp David to the White House  - it made me cringe that if not directly a MeToo moment, was certainly uncomfortable for all those involved.

 

After four years, Butterfield wanted out and went to FAA. He was not part of the Watergate break-in or cover-up, but his spilling the recording system secret made him part of the investigation. After all was said and done, Butterfield was shunned by most Republicans, including Gerald Ford, who went looking for a way/reason to boot Butterfield from the FAA. 

 

This was a quick read and a shorter than meets the eye due to an appendix of nothing but White House documents from Butterfield's time. These documents were explained in the text, but don't add anything that the reader couldn't get from the text. The documents do add another 50 pages to the book - that's it. I do think this book is needed in the Watergate library as a rebuttal to the biographies of Haldeman, Kissinger, and Nixon.

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text 2019-01-04 20:54
Friday Reads - January 4, 2019
The Last of the President's Men - Bob Woodward
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean
Gambled Away: A Historical Romance Anthology - Isabel Cooper,Jeannie Lin,Rose Lerner,Joanna Bourne,Molly O'Keefe

Getting back into my bookish memes, starting with Friday Reads.

 

This weekend I want to finish The Last of the President's Men by Bob Woodward, as that goes back to the library next week. I started The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean last night and continued this morning until my phone battery went low, so that is my doing chores/walking the dog soundtrack until I'm done with the book. Finally I want to read the last story, Gideon and the Den of Thieves by Joanna Bourne, from the anthology Gambled Away so I can be done with it and delete it from the Kindle (first story sucked, second story was good except for the ending, the third one put me to sleep so I DNF'd it, completely skipped the fourth story because I don't like the author's writing).

 

 

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text 2019-01-01 15:28
January 2019 TBR
Three Fearful Days: San Francisco Memoirs of the 1906 Earthquake & Fire - Malcolm E. Barker
The Turning of Anne Merrick - Christine Blevins
Cheer Up Love: Adventures in depression with the Crab of Hate - Susan Calman
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic - Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
North to You - Tif Marcelo
Sweet Disorder - Rose Lerner
Ellis Island - Kate Kerrigan
A Dance with Danger (Rebels and Lovers) - Jeannie Lin
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert
The Last of the President's Men - Bob Woodward

Image result for january

Happy 2019!

 

From my physical non-fiction shelf - Three Fearful Days: San Francisco Memoirs of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire by Malcolm E. Barker

 

From my physical fiction shelf - The Turning of Anne Merrick by Christine Blevins. 

 

From my Winter COYER/BoB cycle 24 reading list - Cheer Up, Love by Susan Calman; Mary & Lou and Ted & Rhoda by Jennifer Armstrong; North to You by Tif Marcelo; Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner; Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan.

 

From 24 Festive Task game: A Dance with Danger by Jeannie Lin, my pick for first book of 2019.

 

From my Science reading list - The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert.

 

From my Nixon reading list - The Last of the President's Men by Bob Woodward.

 

 

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text 2018-12-29 22:54
2019 Reading Goals #1 - Deep Dive into Watergate
1968: The Year That Rocked the World - Mark Kurlansky
Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics - Lawrence O'Donnell
Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America - Rick Perlstein
All the President's Men - Carl Bernstein,Bob Woodward
The Last of the President's Men - Bob Woodward
The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It - John W. Dean
The Making of the President 1972 - Theodore H. White
Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon - Theodore H. White
The Nixon Tapes - Douglas Brinkley,Luke Nichter
Shadow - Bob Woodward

Inspired by the podcasts Slow Burn (season one) from Slate and Bagman by Rachel Maddow, I decided to do a deep dive into the Nixon administration, specifically Watergate.  I already read the Nixon/Ford section of Clint Hill's Five Presidents just to get my feet wet. I may not get to all of these, but I hope to read enough to have a good grasp on what happened.

 

My Nixon Reading List:

 

1. 1968: The Year that Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky

2. Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics by Lawrence O'Donnell

3. The Making of a President 1972 by Theodore White

4. Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein

5. All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

6. Last of the President's Men by Bob Woodward

7. The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It by John Dean

8. Breach of Faith: The Fall of Nixon by Theodore White

9. Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate  by Bob Woodward

10. The Nixon Tapes 1971-1972 by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter 

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review 2018-12-15 22:06
Fear
Fear: Trump in the White House - Bob Woodward

This book is somehow simultaneously alarming and unsurprising. The latter, I suppose, must come from everything I have already read and heard about the inner (mis)workings of the Trump White House. One of the most fascinating things to come about when this book was poised to be released was Bob Woodward's published interview with Donald Trump. The opening of the book notes that Trump declined to be interviewed for it. In the interview, Trump initially claimed that no one had told him about the book, the whole time Woodward was attempting to set up an interview. Then during the course of the interview, it became clear that this was a lie. That captures so much of the way Trump operates.

 

In the interview, Trump claimed that the book was going to be flawed because it lacked his input. But Woodward is thorough and even-handed. Though I have to say, when the book ended, I thought, "Wait, that's <i>it</i>?" I'm not sure how I expected the book to conclude, but it felt as though it just stopped, and everything is so.... Unsettled. I guess that's one of the possible downsides of reporting on real life. I only hope there are still people in the White House averting disaster.

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