FDL Book Salon Welcomes John Dean, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It

By: Saturday August 30, 2014 1:59 pm

I have been fortunate to get to know John Dean over the last number of years. We travel the country presenting seminars, mostly for lawyers, on the lessons and legacy of Watergate. [The Legacy of Watergate @ www.watergatecle.com]. Our particular focus is on John’s role as inhouse lawyer for the White House. What are a lawyer’s professional ethical duties when confronted with organizational fraud or crime? Watergate, we teach, changed legal ethics for the good – it is one of Watergate’s few remaining positive legacies. Most lawyers in most states are required every year or two to take an ethics course because of Watergate.

During our travels, I talked with John about his massive undertaking to transcribe and understand the Nixon tapes with regard to Watergate. How did this crisis ruin a presidency? What critical mistakes were made? Could the situation have been salvaged?

 

Late Night: Rose Mary and Time

By: Thursday June 20, 2013 8:00 pm

This was a big week for Watergate geeks like myself; with anniversaries falling like rain, from the initial break-in and arrests on Monday to today, for which we remember the notorious White House tape so damning that 18 1/2 minutes of it came up conveniently missing. Now, considering what was on the rest of the tapes, that little “stretch” of magnetic gossamer must have been quite something.

Late Night FDL: Times of Illusion

By: Thursday April 25, 2013 8:00 pm

On the rather surreal occasion of the opening of something solemnly called the George W. Bush “Library,” I was inexorably drawn not to my personal Bush Library of 92 infuriating volumes, but the somewhat smaller 60 or so in the Nixon section.  As I listened to snippets of Village homilies and President Obama predictably joshing chummily about the “clubhouse,”  I was reminded of Jonathan Schell’s masterful recounting of the Watergate era, The Time of Illusion. 

The Politics of Lying

By: Sunday April 29, 2012 8:00 pm

One of my favorite authors, David Wise, published a book in 1973 called The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy, and Power. At the time, of course, Watergate was rapidly unfolding, and the first President since Andrew Johnson was about to be impeached for, well, lying. I know it seems quaint today, when actually telling the truth about anything is seen as more politically damaging, but back then, people were still offended about being lied to, for which reason liars at least had some fear of getting caught.

Strange Tales from a Strange Time: Nixon, Ailes, Cameron, Murdoch

By: Friday July 22, 2011 6:00 pm

Watching the fall of Rupert Murdoch play itself out has brought back old, old memories. Memories of the only political scandal I’ve experienced in my homeland that comes even close to what’s been unfolding in the UK right now: Watergate. And to judge from this British piece and this Canadian one, I’m not the only person to be thinking of Watergate in connection with all of this.

“The Sixties” Debate

By: Sunday May 22, 2011 9:30 am

We were idling away the evening on the balcony, drinking wine and talking about everything from the Keith Richards book to Medicare cuts. Our neighbors – she a world class blues singer; he an accomplished painter, musician and entertaining raconteur – were just paying a warm, old-American style social call.

But when I happened to mention that many today consider our generation, the Sixties generation, a failure, I set the singer’s eyes ablaze and we took off on a lively historical survey of the last few decades.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Julian Zelizer, The Presidency of George W. Bush: The First Historical Assessment

By: Sunday January 30, 2011 1:59 pm

Midway through his presidency, when Bob Woodward about how history would judge the War in Iraq, George W. Bush responded: “History. We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” Instead, in a 2006 essay in Rolling Stone, the prominent historian Sean Wilentz argued that a substantial majority of U.S. historians already considered the Bush administration to be a “failure” (81% in a poll conducted by the History News Network). Wilentz predicted that Bush would “be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.”

FDL Book Salon Welcomes John W. Dean, Blind Ambition: The End of the Story

By: Sunday December 20, 2009 2:00 pm

Blind Ambition is—if you haven’t read it already—a great book for any member of the Firedoglake community to read. The entire complex of events that ended up with the shorthand name “Watergate” is incredibly convoluted; think of the Plame affair, multiply it by twenty, and extend the drama over twenty-six months—or twenty-six years, because really, the story did not end with Richard Nixon’s resignation on August 8, 1974, and it hasn’t even ended yet, as John’s splendid afterward (which offers the most convincing explanation in print of what the Watergate burglars were looking for in DNC headquarters) makes perfectly clear. And Blind Ambition, John Dean’s memoir of his participation in the events, is the best single volume Watergate book, out of the literally hundreds of them, to get a full and three-dimensional understanding of the whole thing from start to finish, from the warped executive psychology that produced it (in one of the books funnier scenes young Dean is tasked with screening the avant-garde omnisexual drag queen extravaganza Tricia’s Wedding to see if a case can be made to clamp the filmmakers in leg irons, or something) to the most gripping mystery story history has ever given us.

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