Watergate raises so many questions and yet the one that seems most inescapable is why? Why would Nixon or his team knowing he was going to win an overwhelming victory attempt to bug the DNC head quarters? Why would an extremely successful administration which was winding down Vietnam and strengthening relations with china and the soviets leave itself open to being derailed by a “third rate burglary.” The idea put forth by the video that Nixon wanted to win a landslide victory seems unconvincing especially considering they got nothing from the bug and still won a landslide victory.
I think this novel goes some way towards answering that question. By giving us the characters and their motivations Mallon makes Watergate more explicable. Liddy is dismissed as something of a loon but Hunt and the burglars are shown to be effected strongly by their experience during the bay of pigs disaster and to want revenge on democrats who they blame because Kennedy did not support the operation strongly enough.
However what the novel does best is show why the administration reacted the way it did. Nixon is shown to be a motivated if somewhat unprincipled man concerned more with foreign policy then anything else. This is clearly shown when he says to his secretary that in terms of domestic policy the country could run itself but that it needs real leadership in international relations. Similarly his staff while unscrupulous are not the cartoon villains they could be. His secretary Rose is shown to be hardworking if slightly jealous that she doesn’t have more authority. Larue similarly is a sympathetic character haunted more by his accidental killing of his father then by Watergate. Even Pat is humanized in one of the stranger fictional elements of the novel when she is given a sort of lover. It is difficult to feel sympathetic towards Nixon and his administration considering their crimes and there general shadiness however this novel does a good job of being impartial and showing that for the most part the administration was made up of professionals who really were probably no more corrupt then any other administration and who could not believe that all their hard work would be brought to an end by a failed robbery.