Watergate: A Novel, by Thomas Mallon is most definitely a story unlike any we have read this term. Considering the immense political and social impact the Watergate scandal had on the United States at the time, one would think Mallon’s novel would follow the actions of public affairs, or the incredible drama that shaped modern politics and public attitudes about war, trickery, crime, and the power of the media. Rather, this is a story about the people who were directly affected by the scandal, and the people whose lives were ruined by the events dictated in the novel.

Again, the novel is comprised of personal stories and interactions that eventually allow for the scandal to essentially grow out of them. Defining junctures in American history are initiated, in Mallon’s novel, by private, behind the scenes choices made by the politicians involved. Miniature acts of loyalty, continuity, trickery, and crime are in the end what cause for the resignation of President Nixon in his second term.

Considering the plethora of characters Mallon mentioned and involved in the story, he took an interesting risk ignoring characters like G. Gordon Liddy and John Ehrlichman, who, after watching the video in class, seemed deeply involved in the incident. However, Watergate isn’t like many television shows where you could (if you wanted) more or less ignore most of the characters as they come. I felt that it was hard to get a full experience out the novel, as I was constantly trying to figure out which characters were involved and at what point along the way. Although the Watergate did ask a lot of the reader in that way, it did a terrific job in telling the tale of such an intricate and convoluted incident.

7 thoughts on “Watergate”

  1. I agree that it was certainly odd that this novel chose to focus on the individual characters instead of the politics around the Watergate scandal. The novel only briefly mentions the the fact that sections of Nixon’s tapes had been erased while also choosing to add fictional extraneous characters in order to flesh out arcs and storylines.

  2. I agree with you. I feel like the main purpose of this book is to address all of the characters that were involved in the Watergate scandal. He spends so much time describing each character, and he even lists all of them at the beginning of the novel because it was so many. He does not spend too much time deeply describing the actual scandal.

  3. Exactly. Not much is mentioned in regards to the overarching political effects of the actions of the various characters offered. In regards to the purpose Nixon recorded his conversations, I was confused about that dynamic between the wife and Nixon, as it was made up wasn’t congruent with what happened in actuality.

  4. I agree that the number of characters and stories to follow seemed a bit overwhelming. That being said, I believe Mallon through that web of characters depicted beautifully just how complex the Watergate situation was. I think people seemed to find ties to this scandal whether they likes it or not, and despite the level of involvement, at the end they were all culprits of this conspiracy. I felt like no character could see a way out. Hearing the different stories was an interesting way in which Mallon told the story about the Watergate scandal. It showed just how deep a simple burglary went.

  5. I agree that it was difficult to follow the course of events in the story at times. I’m glad we were able to watch that video in class on Wednesday; I think without it I would have been completely lost at times during Mallon’s novel. This is certainly one shortcoming for the book, but all in all I found the novel to be very enjoyable given the depth of its characters, which made it very easy to picture the events surrounding Watergate as they were depicted in the story.

  6. I strongly agree with your point about how Watergate was really a serious of small events that eventually blew up after an extensive look into the actions of just a few people, but eventually ended up involving a plethora of different parties. It certainly went much deeper than anyone could have imagined, and in my opinion, probably went even deeper than was discovered before the President’s resignment.

    -Alex Murphy

  7. I agree with the fact that this was serious of small events that with the help of some digging by some reporters that wanted to know more became one of the most memorable moments in American history. With the nation calling for Nixon to be impeached and the resignation of Richard Nixon

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