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.