When a reader chooses to delve into the political historical quagmire that surrounded the Watergate scandal, there are a plethora of books from which to choose. In fact, scanning the material available, it can be daunting. Memoirs, diaries, primary sources, documentaries and novels written by the players, victims, crusaders and Nixon himself provide endless choices. Thomas Mallon has managed to create a fictional account of the debacle in DC that has never been easy to piece together. In fact, does anyone really know what happened?
His novel covers the Watergate years starting in 1972, with an epilogue that concludes in 2004. Mallon masterfully constructs an intriguing and riveting recreation, humorous and often sad, through the dialogue of a large field of quirky characters. Once the characters are sorted out and some schema is in place, this novel rapidly turns irresistible. Murky visions of the infamous televised Watergate hearings are backdrop shadows to complement Mallon’s colorful cast, whose voices recount the story.
Most memorable are three women who tried to console and support Nixon as his demise became evident. Pat Nixon, Rose Wood, his secretary, and Mrs. L, the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt – all strong and unique – had easy access to and high influence on Nixon. Lucy Roosevelt is a sharp minded, sagacious respected citizen of Washington who works a room better than any man would dare. Her clever quips are so unforgettable that a closer look by readers into her life will inevitably emerge. Never has Nixon been seen with this much vulnerability and despair. The fictional account of the history of Watergate as told by Mallon will add clarity to the miasma of information pertaining to this epic political blunder that continues to raise questions today, forty years later.