I was in post-graduate studies in Washington DC during the Watergate Scandal. Proximity gave me no particular advantage over the rest of the country, except that I could boast that I had voted against Richard Nixon with Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. And I was pretty sure I could run the government better than he was doing. This book has not proven me wrong.
More than forty years later a reader of this book may still be appalled by what the democratic process wrought. A drunken, power-obsessed, profoundly unhappy man had the power of life and death over the entire planet. The reader may be grateful that the democratic government survived the affair but its damage has not been undone, as Mr. Weiner shows. The Watergate Scandal -- like the other huge mistake of the 20th century, Prohibition -- left indelible scars in American politics.
Mr Weiner does not mention other catastrophes engineered by Mr. Nixon, farm subsidies that keep food prices permanently below market prices, and the decision to force his reluctant party to oppose abortion. The rift within the President's psyche became a canyon in American politics.
We may yet recover but it will take universal integrity, collective sacrifice, a deep willingness to engage the process and trust of our politicians again.
Based largely on documents declassified only in the last few years, One Man Against the World paints a devastating portrait of a tortured yet brilliant man who led the country largely according to a deep-seated insecurity and distrust of not only his cabinet and congress, but the American population at large. In riveting, tick-tock prose, Weiner illuminates how the Vietnam War and the Watergate controversy that brought about Nixon's demise were inextricably linked. From the hail of garbage and curses that awaited Nixon upon his arrival at the White House, when he became the president of a nation as deeply divided as it had been since the end of the Civil War, to the unprecedented action Nixon took against American citizens, who he considered as traitorous as the army of North Vietnam, to the infamous break-in and the tapes that bear remarkable record of the most intimate and damning conversations between the president and his confidantes, Weiner narrates the history of Nixon's anguished presidency in fascinating and fresh detail.