Bestselling author Tom Brokaw brings readers inside the White House press corps in this up-close and personal account of the fall of an American president.
In August 1974, after his involvement in the Watergate scandal could no longer be denied, Richard Nixon became the first and only president to resign from office in anticipation of certain impeachment. The year preceding that moment was filled with shocking revelations and bizarre events, full of power politics, legal jujitsu, and high-stakes showdowns, and with head-shaking surprises every day. As the country’s top reporters worked to discover the truth, the public was overwhelmed by the confusing and almost unbelievable stories about activities in the Oval Office.
Tom Brokaw, who was then the young NBC News White House correspondent, gives us a nuanced and thoughtful chronicle, recalling the players, the strategies, and the scandal that brought down a president. He takes readers from crowds of shouting protesters to shocking press conferences, from meetings with Attorney General Elliot Richardson and White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, to overseas missions alongside Henry Kissinger. He recounts Nixon’s claims of executive privilege to withhold White House tape recordings of Oval Office conversations; the bribery scandal that led to the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew and his replacement by Gerald Ford; the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox; how in the midst of Watergate Nixon organized emergency military relief for Israel during the Yom Kippur War; the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court that required Nixon to turn over the tapes; and other insider moments from this important and dramatic period.
The Fall of Richard Nixon allows readers to experience this American epic from the perspective of a journalist on the ground and at the center of it all.
Advance praise for The Fall of Richard Nixon
“A divided nation. A deeply controversial president. Powerful passions. No, it’s not what you’re thinking, but Tom Brokaw knows that the past can be prologue, and he’s given us an absorbing and illuminating firsthand account of how Richard Nixon fell from power. Part history, part memoir, Brokaw’s book reminds us of the importance of journalism, the significance of facts, and the inherent complexity of power in America.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of America
Former White House correspondent Brokaw (A Lucky Life Interrupted) presents a brisk account of his "reporter's experience of Watergate, the final act," in this affable memoir. Brokaw joined the White House press corps in the summer of 1973 after serving as nightly news anchor for L.A.'s KNBC. Some of his new colleagues wrote to the president of NBC News that Brokaw wasn't qualified for the role, but future rival Dan Rather, Brokaw notes, was "immediately cordial." By August, Watergate and its related scandals had reached Nixon's inner circle; Brokaw recalls an awkward encounter in a Washington, D.C., burger joint with John Ehrlichman and his 10-year-old son shortly after the ex White House adviser had been indicted for planning to steal whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg's psychological profile. Chronicling the 12 months leading up to Nixon's resignation in August 1974, Brokaw describes major milestones the "I'm not a crook" press conference; the revelation that 18-and-a-half minutes were missing from a key tape recording and pays tribute to his fellow journalists who covered the historical events. Though he makes a handful of references to Donald Trump and the current "chaotic time in the American presidency," the theme isn't developed in detail. Watergate completists will appreciate Brokaw's clubby reminiscences; those seeking a substantive analysis, however, should look elsewhere.