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Washington Journal: The Events of 1973-1974

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Hardcover, 428 pages
Published January 1st 1976 by Vintage Books USA (first published 1975)
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Howard
“Let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth, to see it like it is and tell it like it is, to find the truth, to speak the truth, and to live the truth." – Richard M. Nixon


Elizabeth Drew had been writing for the New Yorker for only a few months when she went to the office of the editor, Wallace Shawn. He asked her what she was thinking about writing. She wrote in the foreword to Washington Journal:

I told him that I had an intuition that within a year this country would change vice president a
...more
Grady McCallie
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Washington Journal was published the year after Richard Nixon resigned from the US Presidency rather than be impeached and almost certainly convicted for abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The book is long - it is fascinating, but just goes on and on - but that comes across as an almost physical reflection of what it must have been like to live through the year it covers, from August 1973 through Nixon's resignation in 1974. The book is written as contemporaneous entries, and time after ...more
Sherry
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an astonishingly relevant book. Whether you read it for a peek inside the political process, or for the whodunit quality, or for the Constitutional scholarship, you will leave well-informed. I recommend reading the afterward from the 2014 re-publication as well, in which Drew adds Nixon's history and dogged campaign to keep himself a player. I kept stopping to say "listen to this."

I am going to quote two statements from near the end.

Speaking of the Nixon insiders:
...more
Frank
Apr 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Biggest strength is also its biggest weakness -- namely, that it's written as a diary, rather than being self evidently structured into a narrative afterward. On the one hand, makes it more compelling as a blow-by-blow; on the other hand, has a certain ostinato quality to it that makes it hard to get through 450 pages. In short: good read but hard to read. Also super creepy reading early in 2017 -- large portions, especially in the beginning, could be translated to the present just by changing p ...more
Peter
A typically understated title for one searing corker of a book. Clocking in at a bit over 400 pages (and starting only in September 1973, after the existence of the tapes is already well-established, but the Saturday Night Massacre has yet to happen), this book is pure fact and history, told in real time, but with masterful pacing and structure that casts a fictional pall and puts you right there in the middle of that misty what-did-they-do-now? and the fearful where-will-this-end? atmosphere of ...more
veronian
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot recommend Elizabeth Drew's Washington Journal enough. Anyone remotely interested in Watergate and curious about the parallels in today's day to day news cycle should check out this fascinating book (originally published contemporaneously by The New Yorker in serial format).

The diary-like format captures the sense of time and the daily shock, fear, and news burnout in a way no other history book does. You really feel the tension of waking up in the morning, wondering what the
...more
Marc
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As we are now dealing with a Nixonian Trump presidency I've decided to read Drew's account of the Watergate coverage in 73-74'. It's really interesting to read what Republicans in the judiciary committee had to say about Nixon as he battled the congress and the Supreme Court to keep his tape or bargain his way out of this mess.

Watergate was long, exhausting and stressful for DC and Drew is really good at characterizing the mood of the key players on the Hill
Simon Fletcher
Not an easy book to read because it does demand a fair amount of background knowledge as to what happened during the Watergate scandal. Where it does shine though is its discussion of the Senate Judiciary Committee's deliberations and vote to impeach.
Phyllis
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is truly an amazing book. I have been going around telling to read it and I've even been citing passages on Facebook (nerd alert) because it's so important to have Drew's perspective right now, during the summer of 2017.

I was just a little too young to remember much about Nixon or Watergate. I do remember the 1970s being pretty awful: gas lines, hostages (I do remember having nightmares about the Munich Olympics masked man looking over the balcony), lots of war on TV. So Drew's
...more
Gary Hoggatt
I first learned about this book a few months ago, when - in the dawning days of the Trump administration - author Elizabeth Drew appeared on Ezra Klein's podcast for an interview, discussing the days of Watergate and comparisons to today's events. Drew was fascinating, and being born in 1978 and having never read anything dedicated to Watergate, I decided to pick up Washington Journal, to learn what living the through the biggest political scandal in American history was like (at least, until no ...more
Bruce
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I read the intro, skipped around in the entries, and the epilogue, enough to reinforce my memory of the times. Richard Nixon was a very, very sick man. Even after the disgrace of a forced resignation, he was plotting his return to "grace" as an elder statesman for the Republican Party. No understanding that his private thug burglary group was against the law. No understanding that he was NOT above the law. In fact, he believed that if the president did it or said it, it was legal. He tried to ar ...more
Peter Buchanan
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
with all the talk about our current President being Nixonian, I thought I would try out "Washington Journal" - the "Watergate Diary" compendium by Elizabeth Drew that was first published as individual pieces in The New Yorker and later became a well regarded book of essays on the late Nixon era. It's really a great book on several levels: Because it's a book of diary entries, it's very much "of the present" in late 1973 and 1974. It also has really good analysis and perspective - especially give ...more
Libbie
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much about this insane, fascinating period. This passage from the afterward sums it up well: "Though the Watergate period was alarming, honesty requires an admission that it was also a high -- that for all its deeply worrisome nature, it was an exciting time, a wild ride through history, including several moments of hilarity. But it was essentially nervous laughter, giving cover to the fact that the most of us were frightened, at least some of the time, many for the most part of it. ...more
Ellen Simon
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing, beautifully reported, terrifyingly current. Her editor told her he wanted her to write about the scandals gripping Washington in the last year of Nixon's presidency in a way that would resonate with readers 40 years later; the book was republished exactly 40 years later. Drew's sources are fabulous, her insights are spot-on, and her conclusion is a whammy: The institutions didn't save the country. Rather, the people in those institutions who operated with a sense of duty, professionalis ...more
Gwen Weddington
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
Fascinating way to relive the year or so before the Nixon resignation. I was 16-17 when this happened, so I remember the times even though I was not that focused. The book gets a bit long, but then it reached the finale. Drew's telling of the story as it happened helped me to understand the process. And, I could feel the fatigue that I feel right now under the Trump tweets and issues.
Katie
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating view of how Watergate felt to those who went through it. A bit tedious at times - especially in the middle and in the recitation of various participants - but absolutely gripping in other sections. I feel so much smarter having read this book.
Linda Taylor
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the reviewers, Sherry, said "This is an astonishingly relevant book." I might echo her and say, "This is a terrifyingly relevant book."

I lived through this in my mid-teens. I watched a lot of the hearings on TV. So many things are only coming into focus for me now, especially how it all tied in to Viet Nam.

Elizabeth Drew has some amazing sources, and she also seemed to recognize the importance of some of the lesser known (to me) characters, like Peter Rodino and John Doar. It
...more
B Kevin
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, politics, 2017
Wow!! An absolutely fascinating nostalgic walk through the last year of Nixon's presidency. A reminder of how close we came to disaster. Even more interesting is her afterward, describing Nixon's last campaign to claw his way back to respectability.
Smg
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good, especially timely right now in April 2018.
Kim Lockhart
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stunningly revelatory. Should be required reading for high school students. No other journalist came close to documenting the details of Watergate scandal.
Alan
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-audiobooks
Perhaps you had to be there. I remember this as though yesterday. And now, also.
Christine Riley
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trip down memory lane.... what Watergate felt like as it happened. Not a history, but a journal written by a prominent journalist as events unfolded. Very creepy in light of today's revelations.
Morleena
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So, so good. Fascinating account--
Lauren Wiseman
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, nonfiction, history
*whispers* Nixooooooooooooon...

I read a lot of books about Richard Nixon. To be honest, it's always new no matter what book it is. Whether it's Nixonland by Rick Perlstein, Abuse of Power by Stanley Kutler, or even Into the Arena by the man himself, I always come back to Richard Nixon.

Why? Well, I think there's a lot we can learn from him while learning about him.

Elizabeth Drew has done an amazing thing for me: she's chronicled the downward spiral that was 1973-1974 through the eyes of a reporter, and it's a
...more
Frederic Hunter
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing

When Elizabeth Drew reported on Washington politics for the New Yorker, her coverage was the first thing I read whenever I picked up the magazine. That coverage was wise, crisp, savvy, well-written, well-researched, well-reported and a delight to read. So it’s a real pleasure to find her WASHINTON JOURNAL: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall forty years after the events it describes.
When she was reporting for the magazine, readers got the coverage week by week. In this compil
...more
Bob
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good History Lesson

It was good to read this book at this time. Having lived through the time period it was a good refresher and chance to consider possible comparisons to today's world.
Laura Aranda
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Slow at the beginning, but I swear you won't be able to put this down once you've reached the Summer of 1974 portion of the text. I read this right after finishing up All the President's Men by Woodward and Bernstein. This picks up right where that book left off--when the president assured the US that he was not a crook, but the impeachment debates took off regardless. Washington Journal is even more riveting than ATPM, I daresay, as E. Drew's daily journal entries touch on the personalities of ...more
Evan
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have been a fan of Elizabeth Drew for many years. Like other Goodreaders, I was drawn by her coverage of the Capitol for the New Yorker. Washington Journal predates my readership. It has been a rewarding, exhausting and haunting experience. Through Drew I now understand that Watergate represented Presidential corruption and lawlessness from the start of Nixon's tenure until its last day. Drew is at her finest in reporting on the work of the House Judiciary Committee, whose work resulted in thr ...more
Luke
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
The "Washington Journal" is a peerless companion to the Nixon Presidency that processes the impeachment day by day with an excellent eye for detail and phrasing. Though not the main thrust, the events at the margin of each entry about gas shortages, national, and international politics give the book better context and world building than many others.
Mukeary
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I seem to be into non-fiction books these days, although this republishing of Elizabeth Drew's columns written during the Watergate crisis contain information that should be fiction. An interesting afterward added to this edition. The whole mess sounds more dangerous now than it did then.
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