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Watergate: A Novel
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2012
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From one of our most esteemed historical novelists, 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, moving readers from the private cabins of Camp David to the klieg lights of the Senate Caucus Room, from the District of Columbia jail to the Dupont Circle mansion of Theodore Roosevelt’s sharp-tongued ninety-year-old daughter (“The clock is dick-dick-dicking”), and into the hive of the Watergate complex itself, home not only to the Democratic National Committee but also to the president’s attorney general, his recklessly loyal secretary, and the shadowy man from Mississippi who pays out hush money to the burglars.
 
Praised by Christopher Hitchens for his “splendid evocation of Washington,” Mallon achieves with Watergate a scope and historical intimacy that surpasses even what he attained in his previous novels, as he turns a “third-rate burglary” into a tumultuous, first-rate entertainment.

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Street Date:
02/21/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307907080
ASIN:
B0050DIW9S
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APA Citation (style guide)

Thomas Mallon. (2012). Watergate: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Thomas Mallon. 2012. Watergate: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Thomas Mallon, Watergate: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Thomas Mallon. Watergate: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Thomas Mallon is the author of eight novels, including Henry and Clara, Dewey Defeats Truman, and Fellow Travelers, and seven works of nonfiction. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review, among other publications. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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title
Watergate
fullDescription

From one of our most esteemed historical novelists, 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, moving readers from the private cabins of Camp David to the klieg lights of the Senate Caucus Room, from the District of Columbia jail to the Dupont Circle mansion of Theodore Roosevelt’s sharp-tongued ninety-year-old daughter (“The clock is dick-dick-dicking”), and into the hive of the Watergate complex itself, home not only to the Democratic National Committee but also to the president’s attorney general, his recklessly loyal secretary, and the shadowy man from Mississippi who pays out hush money to the burglars.
 
Praised by Christopher Hitchens for his “splendid evocation of Washington,” Mallon achieves with Watergate a scope and historical intimacy that surpasses even what he attained in his previous novels, as he turns a “third-rate burglary” into a tumultuous, first-rate entertainment.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content:

        "We're propelled forward and kept highly entertained by the colorful characters, the delicious insider details, the intelligence of the dialogue...What Mallon captures particularly well is the fundamental weirdness and mystery at the center of the scandal...It appears that Mallon's primary goal, one he achieves with great finesse, is to make the portrayals of his characters as believable as possible."

      • premium: False
      • source: George Will, Washington Post
      • content: "In [Mallon's] practiced hands--this is not his first fling at historical fiction--the festering mess of 1972-74 becomes almost fun, actually funny, and instructive about how history can be knocked sideways by small mediocrities...Mallon uses his literary sensibility and mordant wit to give humanity to characters who in their confusions and delusions staggered across the national stage...let Mallon be your archaeologist, excavating a now distant past that reminds us that things could be very much worse. They once were."
      • premium: False
      • source: Janet Maslin, New York Times 10 Favorite Books of 2012
      • content: "In this stealth bull's-eye of a political novel, Mr. Mallon invests the Watergate affair with all the glitter, glamour, suave grace and subtlety that it doesn't often receive. Written with the name-dropping panache of a Hollywood tell-all, it seamlessly embellishes reportage with fiction."
      • premium: False
      • source: Newsday
      • content: "Mesmerizing ...While clarifying the maze of connections among elected officials, political advisers, cronies and assorted power-mad or ideologically driven Nixonites, Mallon keeps the narrative moving at thriller-novel pace. Yet his writing always soars far above that genre's cliches...Like the best historical novelists, Mallon uses great public events as superstructure for classic themes of ambition and power, rivalry and envy, love lost and yearned for. In this sense, Watergate succeeds brilliantly. Like them or not, these tormented characters throb with life."
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Times
      • content: "Fiction of a remarkably high order...Fiction, to be sure. But just as acceptable as any of the factual explanations history has left us with."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Boston Globe
      • content: "It already can be said with some certainty that no Watergate retread will be as imaginative or as entertaining as Watergate: A Novel...Mallon, a master of the genre knows the dance between history and fiction...Full of telling, vivid detail...Mallon gets each of the characters with perfect pitch."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Seattle Times
      • content: "A pleasurably perverse and darkly comedic thriller...a beguilingly intricate structure."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Miami Herald
      • content: "An entertaining and surprisingly touching look at the 37th president's self-inflicted downfall...Watergate is finely polished. Gore Vidal and E. L. Doctorow were instrumental in resuscitating the historical novel genre in this country. Now that their best days are past, it is comforting to know that the patient is thriving in Dr. Mallon's capable hands."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Columbus Dispatch
      • content: "Brashly entertaining...Though thoroughly based on fact, this is unrepentantly a work of fiction...[Mallon's] characters still have the ability to shock. He regards them with humor but also with compassion, as their plans and hopes are ruined by chance and unruly human emotions."
      • premium: False
      • source: Barnes and Noble.com
      • content: "An observant and interior study of power and how men and women manipulate it differently... a product of thorough research."
      • premium: False
      • source: Slate
      • content: "A clever comic novel...Imaginative fiction can tell a deeper truth than writing that sticks to demonstrable fact."
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal
      • content: "If ever a historical event was worthy of a comic novel, it's Watergate, and Mallon, with several outstanding h
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 14, 2011
        Mallon’s historical novels have been moving steadily closer to the present, from the Lincoln era through the Gilded and Jazz ages to the 1940s and, with Fellow Travelers, his last book, the McCarthy era. Here he takes on the ’70s, which, depending on the reader, will seem either ancient or way too recent to be history. As Mallon moves from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee offices to Nixon’s resignation, shifting viewpoints as he goes, he provides a lot of exposition. Some of it, implausibly, occurs in dialogue and internal monologues, as people go over what they know for the sake of readers who no longer do or never did. It’s hard going at first, but the reward is getting to enter the heads of Watergate participants who were off to the side or never wrote memoirs: Nixon secretary Rose Mary Woods, progenitor of the famed 18-minute tape gap; stoic Pat Nixon; meddling Alice Roosevelt Longworth, famously tart-tongued and responsible here for some very funny moments; and Mississippian Fred LaRue, aka the “Bagman.” Mallon makes these people sympathetic, no small feat; readers may be surprised at how much they end up disliking Elliot Richardson, one of the era’s few heroes. If the author can’t bring the story to a satisfying close or explain why so many were so loyal to the president they call “the Old Man,” well, history is often messier than fiction. Agent: The Wylie Agency

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        November 15, 2011
        Revisiting the history of the '70s with our favorite cast of characters. Mallon casts a wide political net, starting at the time of the Watergate break-in and ending (except for an epilogue) just after the time Nixon resigned. In between he reconstructs the whole insalubrious episode and how it played out for the prime suspects. Players like Presidential Aide Fred LaRue are also given prominent space, and there's a special affection Mallon seems to have for Rose Mary Woods, Nixon's hapless secretary (or Executive Assistant, as she became) who notoriously erased 18 minutes of taped conversations in the Oval Office...or did she? Other favorites include Martha Mitchell, whose boozy garrulity got her husband, Attorney General John Mitchell, into even deeper trouble. Mallon takes us to the salons and dinner parties of the Highly Connected, like Alice Roosevelt Longworth, where the unfolding of sordid incidents serves as relish to the meals. Pat Nixon emerges as a sympathetic character, disturbed by her husband's machinations yet powerless to stop--or even to comprehend--them. We witness the hubris and self-satisfaction of Nixonites as Sam Ervin is named to head the investigating committee. (He's dismissed as an "old, unenergetic southerner who lacked any particular animus toward Nixon"). Elliot Richardson is ingratiating, whipsmart and super-ambitious--and craves even more political power when Spiro Agnew resigns in disgrace. And we're reintroduced to characters time has almost forgotten: Leon Jaworski, Judge John Sirica and Howard Hunt, who frequently consumes milk to keep at bay effects of a troubling ulcer. While billed as a novel, this book reads more like a documentary of a fascinating yet unlamented time.

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 15, 2011

        Author of such celebrated novels as Dewey Defeats Truman, Mallon would seem to have the right mix of historical understanding and fresh whimsy that a crazily earthshaking event like Watergate requires. As he unfolds the story from the perspectives of seven characters, Mallon takes on some of the abiding questions of this scandal (e.g., who erased those crucial moments on the tape?). This will be popular.

        Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from November 15, 2011
        Mallon (Fellow Travelers, 2007), astute and nimble, continues his scintillating, morally inquisitive journey through crises great and absurd in American politics by taking on Watergate. Mixing judiciously selected facts about the infamous break-in and cover-up with shrewd invention, Mallon creates a whirling behind-the-scenes drama with a selective and intriguing cast: Nixon, a misanthrope in a flesh-presser's profession, able to succeed from cunning and a talent for denying reality at close range. Howard Hunt, a mediocre fiction writer turned ill-fated White House plumber. Ambitious cabinet member Elliot Richardson, and melancholy and enigmatic bagman Fred LaRue. Always sensitive to the marginalized, Mallon tells the stories of the Watergate women with particular insight and panache, beginning with Pat Nixon, a clandestine smoker with a secret love and far more wit and moxie than her public persona suggests. Nixon's devoted and flinty secretary, Rose Mary Woods, loves to dance and conceals a molten temper. The venomously funny belle of this satirical ball is Alice Longworth Roosevelt, who, in her mischievous nineties, knows everyone and will say anything. 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With Washington politics in an uproar, Mallon's knowing and entertaining take on Watergate will garner avid media attention as he makes appearances accompanied by a high-profile ad campaign.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

popularity
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From one of our most esteemed historical novelists, 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, moving readers from the private cabins of Camp David to the klieg lights of the Senate Caucus Room, from the District of Columbia jail to the Dupont Circle mansion of...

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