Thomas Mallon’s Watergate

I thought Watergate was very well-written by Thomas Mallon. Mallon seemed to be very down-the-middle on most of the contentious points of the novel. To start, he didn’t seem to write with any political agenda, which I find to be a rarity especially among topics like Watergate. Mallon also didn’t seem to have any predispositioned bias against Nixon and his colleagues. Rather, Nixon is portrayed as more endearing than evil at times. However, by the end of it, Mallon is sure show Nixon’s faults in the whole ordeal. Mallon seems to call it like he sees it, rather than hammer or defend him from one side or the other.

To me, this book almost seemed like a critique on the mass media and the way that Nixon was portrayed as an evil crook. I found it interesting how Nixon seemed to be more concerned with his foreign policy than worrying about Watergate. Mallon clearly made a concerted effort to show backstories and add depth to the characters. Rather than jumping down their throats for the their crimes and the coverup, Mallon presents the whole scope for characters like Richard and Pat Nixon, Fred LaRue, Rosemary Woods, and E. Howard Hunt among others. Even though these stories were fictionalized, this is something the mass media would never do.

-Ian Vogt

6 thoughts on “Thomas Mallon’s Watergate”

  1. You make an interesting suggestion that in this novel Mallon gives Nixon and the people involved in Watergate fairer treatment then they were given by the media. I agree that it has been easy for media during and since Watergate to make Nixon a cartoon villain. This even extends to popular media for example nixon being the evil president in futurama. However I would disagree not so much with you but with Mallon if as you suggest his purpose is to show that Watergate is over blown. For while it may have began as a third rate robbery it was Nixon’s attempt at a cover up that made his position untenable. I think this is not something that we can blame the media for since it is their job to hold officials to account.

  2. Mallon doesn’t seem to have a bias in the novel that that is why it is a compelling novel. I think that Nixon’s concern about foreign affairs was very valid at this time, considering the legacy of Vietnam. Perhaps he just wanted to have a secure presidency in a time of uncertainty, but the novel encourages questions such as this. Although the personalities and actions of some of the characters were fictitious, the objective writing of the novel allows the reader to create their own opinions on the real people they’re based on.

    1. I remember in the tv episode we watched in class on Wednesday it was mentioned Nixon was very concerned about Vietnam tarnishing his legacy. That that was brought up added credibility to the book for me, even if it was fictionalized I think it captured the full scope of the ordeal and the mindsets of many of its characters.

  3. I agree with you that Mallon gives Nixon a much fairer portrayal than he had during the Watergate scandal. He was seen as being very dishonest, and was basically viewed as the villain of the situation. It was his role in the cover-up that ultimately cost him his job on Pennsylvania Ave. Mallon could have easily made him seem evil in his book, but he chose to address him differently.

  4. I agree that Mallon seemed to take a much more distant view of the situation. I think this just adds to how people perceived the scandal at the time. I believe a majority of the people were just as confused as the readers today reading about Watergate that one can be only a spectator of the fiasco. I think Nixon was just banking that the situation would just handle itself or he just did not think it would break out the way it did.

    1. I think it’s interesting that you mention how the scandal was perceived at the time. Mallon’s book was published 40 years after the initial news about the story broke, and I imagine the its easier for him to distance himself emotionally from the scandal in 2012 than it would have been in 1972.

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