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review 2020-05-06 01:54
A Thrilling Countdown
The Final Days - Carl Bernstein,Bob Woodward

Title: The Final Days

Authors: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

Publish Date: November 1, 2005 (first published in 1976)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 480 pages

Source: Personal copy

Date Read: April 16-22, 2020




A thrilling day by day account, starting around late January 1973 and going to August 9, 1974. This book is both a stand alone on what happened to end Nixon's presidency and yet it also a great sequel to All the President's Men. I think this book is better written than Men because there is no focus on Woodward's and Bernstein's working relationship or how to publish articles in the paper while lawyers from the White House and the Washington Post went head to head in court. The sole focus of the story was how the house of cards that Nixon built came crashing down around everyone. 


I have to say there are more than a few similarities that a reader can make between Judy Nixon and Ivanka Trump. Man, Judy was a real dope to believe her father past the time of his resignation and how she coddled him when Dick was living up to his name. I can't believe she married an Eisenhower, much less the former president's grandson - what the fuck did he see in her, I don't know. I do know that dear David Eisenhower believed in his father-in-law's guilt and tried to open Judy's eyes; for that she lashed out at David and dug in her heels. David was as astute as to Richard M. Nixon's darker side as his grandfather. Pat Nixon was pretty much drunk the entire time (I mean EVERY DAY), probably since summer of 1972 after the news broke. She didn't even try to get herself involved in her husband's PR campaign. 


Seeing how Nixon threw Haldeman and Ehrlichman under the bus, then backed up that bus and drove it over them again and again was fun, especially after reading what these three stooges did in Men. At the same time, John Dean had already turned state's evidence, so watching Dean throw Nixon on under that same bus and driving it over him and his very special personal attorney from Boston gave me a downright giddy feeling. 


I was surprised by new VP Gerald Ford's insistence of keeping a low profile, but enough public support of Nixon to show an united front. Ford didn't want the job in the executive branch - he was happy on the legislative side of Washington DC. It was as if Ford was in a wholly different administration while the rest of the White House was crumbling. He was as big of a rube as Judy Nixon. But this book did make me want to read more about his presidency. 


A fun and interesting ride through politics.

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review 2019-07-07 20:57
Very Strange Bedfellows: The Short and Unhappy Marriage of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew by Jules Witcover
Very Strange Bedfellows: The Short and Unhappy Marriage of Richard Nixon & Spiro Agnew - Jules Witcover

Date Published: May 27, 2008

Format: Paperback

Source: Own copy

Date Read: May 31, 2019 - June 5, 2019

Read for BL-opoly 2019, Nixon Reading List, and COYER Summer 2019



Nixon and Agnew were an odd couple whose political love affair disintegrated over five years into a calamitous denouement. Agnew's divisive rhetoric skyrocketed his popularity, but he grew weary of exclusion from the Nixon inner circle. Nixon, concluding that Agnew was not the man to succeed him, conspired to dump him in 1972 and later to remove him from the line of presidential succession. But before Nixon's presidency collapsed in Watergate, a tawdry scandal of payoffs to Agnew in the White House accomplished the job. Jules Witcover, a leading political reporter of that period, wrote political biographies of both men and coauthored the acclaimed account of the Agnew resignation, A Heartbeat Away. Now, with three decades of perspective, a trove of new material including Nixon's White House tapes and interviews with close Nixon-Agnew associates, Witcover has written a captivating narrative that reveals how the foibles, pettiness and weaknesses of each man destroyed that marriage, and ultimately their careers. Very Strange Bedfellows' revealing look into the flawed and fascinating Nixon presidency will be catnip to anyone interested in American politics and American history.




I wanted to read this book the minute I found it in my search to build the Nixon Reading List. Luckily, I found a used copy at Half Price Books.com and had it in my possession in less than a week after ordering. I have been interested in the Spiro Agnew dimension of the Nixon presidency since I listened to Rachel Maddow's eight episode podcast "Bagman." Highly recommend to listen to it, as it goes in depth both personality wise and actions that led to Agnew's resignation during the Watergate scandal (but not a part of the Watergate scandal). This book also goes into detail about what Agnew did to earn a resignation from the second highest position in the country.


Spiro Agnew was not a Nixon guy at first - he was for Rockfeller up until the Republican Convention in 1968, when unexpectedly announced that he would be Nixon's running mate. Agnew hadn't been governor for a year before this announcement came out of the blue. Since the announcement was unexpected, Agnew wasn't too worried about how he was left out of planning and strategy meetings that Nixon's inner circle held often. Once the Nixon-Agnew won in the fall of 1968, Agnew was hoping to enter this inner circle. He didn't realize at the time how paranoid and insecure Nixon was and how Nixon's inner circle handled him. 


Agnew became a lightning rod, becoming Nixon's Nixon - he acted like how Nixon acted during the Eisenhower years, stirring up controversary and going after the media. This delighted Nixon, who could then play the statesman while Agnew was the hatchet man. This uneasy partnership worked until the 1970 mid-term elections, when the Republicans lost the House. Nixon and his team then tried to put a muzzle on Agnew, but the cat was already out of the bag and walking the streets. Agnew was also left out of any leadership positions within the White House and his cabinet dwindled down to three or four people, with HR Haldman and John Ehrilchman blocking every one of his attempts to directly deal with Nixon. Agnew was staunchly anti-Communist and against the China détente, so it was a surprise to Agnew when he read about Nixon's trip to China in the paper. There were other, smaller snubs and misdirections given to Agnew by the Nixon team, including the creepy bromance between John Connolly (governor of Texas) and Nixon. I wanted to vomit reading about these two.


By the time Alexander Butterfield admitted to Congress that there were White House tapes, Agnew was under FBI investigation for extortion, dating back to the time he was Baltimore city councilman and through his time as Maryland governor and VP. He had hoped that Nixon could pull strings and get the investigation squashed, but Nixon was already over his head with Watergate and Agnew was once again on his own. The book follows the two men through their respective resignations and post political life. A fascinating look at how thoroughly Agnew through away his political convictions and personal morality to play second fiddle to the paranoid and insecure Nixon. 

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review 2019-05-29 22:11
We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time
We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal At a Time - Richard Wolffe,José Andrés

Date Published: September 11, 2018

Format: Print

Source: Library

Date Read: April 30 - May 5, 2019



Chef José Andrés arrived in Puerto Rico four days after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island. The economy was destroyed and for most people there was no clean water, no food, no power, no gas, and no way to communicate with the outside world.

Andrés addressed the humanitarian crisis the only way he knew how: by feeding people, one hot meal at a time. From serving sancocho with his friend José Enrique at Enrique’s ravaged restaurant in San Juan to eventually cooking 100,000 meals a day at more than a dozen kitchens across the island, Andrés and his team fed hundreds of thousands of people, including with massive paellas made to serve thousands of people alone.. At the same time, they also confronted a crisis with deep roots, as well as the broken and wasteful system that helps keep some of the biggest charities and NGOs in business.

Based on Andrés’s insider’s take as well as on meetings, messages, and conversations he had while in Puerto Rico, We Fed an Island movingly describes how a network of community kitchens activated real change and tells an extraordinary story of hope in the face of disasters both natural and man-made, offering suggestions for how to address a crisis like this in the future. 



I come from an emergency management background, as that was my job in the Air Force, so I was coming from that perspective to this book rather than a foodie who wanted to read a book from a chef. I would like to nominate Chef Andres for the top job of running FEMA after reading this book. FEMA is an unwiedly, bloated government agency that can't find its way even with a map and GPS and a guide person. But this book also solidified my decision not to support the Red Cross whenever they do their disaster campaigns and look to other organizations to support or just a local bank fund to give to. 


It was telling that Chef Andres and his team/non-profit had experience in disaster relief (especially on islands) and had a what he, Chef Andres himself, described as a more "libertarian" response to feeding Puerto Ricans and that it was surprising to him that the conservatives back in Washington, DC didn't see that and support him. It showed that nobody gave a damn about Puerto Rico and that the government needs to overhaul it's disaster management and response, starting with FEMA.


Highly recommend. 

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