ONE OF USA TODAY'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR • A riveting account of the crucial days, hours, and moments when the Watergate conspiracy consumed, and ultimately toppled, a president—from the best-selling author of One Minute to Midnight.
In January 1973, Richard Nixon had just been inaugurated after winning re-election in a historic landslide. He enjoyed an almost 70 percent approval rating. But by April 1973, his presidency had fallen apart as the Watergate scandal metastasized into what White House counsel John Dean called “a full-blown cancer.” King Richard is the intimate, utterly absorbing narrative of the tension-packed hundred days when the Watergate conspiracy unraveled as the burglars and their handlers turned on one another, exposing the crimes of a vengeful president.
Drawing on thousands of hours of newly-released taped recordings, Michael Dobbs takes us into the heart of the conspiracy, recreating these traumatic events in cinematic detail. He captures the growing paranoia of the principal players and their desperate attempts to deflect blame as the noose tightens around them. We eavesdrop on Nixon plotting with his aides, raging at his enemies, while also finding time for affectionate moments with his family. The result is an unprecedentedly vivid, close-up portrait of a president facing his greatest crisis.
Central to the spellbinding drama is the tortured personality of Nixon himself, a man whose strengths, particularly his determination to win at all costs, become his fatal flaws. Rising from poverty to become the most powerful man in the world, he commits terrible errors of judgment that lead to his public disgrace. He makes himself—and then destroys himself.
Structured like a classical tragedy with a uniquely American twist, King Richard is an epic, deeply human story of ambition, power, and betrayal.
The unraveling of Richard Nixon's presidency plays out in intimate detail in this vivid recreation of a key period in the Watergate scandal. Drawing on recently released tapes from Nixon's secret White House recording system, historian Dobbs (The Unwanted) focuses on the six months between Nixon's second inauguration, when he was riding high from his 1972 reelection landslide and peace treaty with North Vietnam, and July 17, 1973, when the press first reported on the existence of the recording devices, setting him on the path to resignation in August 1974. It's a gripping story of decline under pressure as Nixon and his aides confront mounting extortion demands from the Watergate burglars "You could get a million dollars. You could get it in cash. I know where it could be gotten," Nixon assures White House counsel John Dean in a discussion of hush-money procedures and grow increasingly desperate and fractious as investigators close in. Dobbs skillfully quotes from the tapes to paint colorful, nuanced portraits of White House yes-men, a manipulative Henry Kissinger, and a Nixon who is vulnerable, melancholy, paranoid, and vengeful. ("We're going to kill them... if it's the last thing I do in this office," he seethes about his media detractors.) The result is an indelible study of a political antihero. Photos.