I’ve seen the film several times and I never fully understood the Watergate scandal. Although it’s one of my favourite films, I don’t think it explains how the story broke in clear enough detail – there’s far too many people implicated in the scandal, far too many names to keep track of.
I finally got hold of a copy of the book, and when I started reading I feared I’d have to make a list of the names as a reference, but as I kept reading, it became clearer and easy to follow.
Essentially the general summary is that the Attorney General & Chief of Staff along with others, controlled a secret fund (in present day money well over $3 million) that paid for political espionage (including but not exclusively, the notorious break in of Democratic offices at the Watergate). The scandal went all the way to President Nixon and ultimately resulted in Nixon’s resignation – although that and the aftermath (including Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon, meaning he escaped impeachment & prosecution).
The book tells the story of how the story broke and the resulting further investigation on the part of The Washington Post. It’s a gripping read even though you know what happens. It’s fast paced and thoroughly absorbing. It makes you want to read further about American journalism in the 60s – 80s and I intend on extending my library!
I recommend you read the book first then re/watch the film (which is what we did last night and I was able to explain clearly what was happening as it happened to the Mister).
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