El's Reviews > All the President's Men

All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein
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bookshelves: 20th-centurylit-late, cultural-studies-and-other

I was in high school when Richard Nixon died, but I was young and my interests at that time weren't exceptionally political. My concerns at that time had more to do with Kurt Cobain's death just a few weeks prior. That meant more to me than that Nixon guy. I do remember having breakfast at a friend's house around the time of Nixon's death, and her stepfather having trying to have a conversation with me about it. He was a strange guy, and looking back I'm not sure if he was particularly the safest guy for me to be around, though at the time he seemed perfectly fine and nice. He liked REO Speedwagon, so y'know, just how creepy could he be? Oh wait.

At that particular breakfast he tried to tell me how Nixon hadn't been such a bad guy, that he had gotten a bad reputation but that personally his heart went out to him, because that "whole Watergate stuff" just wasn't his fault. Nixon wasn't involved in all that mess, my friend's stepfather said. He was an innocent man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I didn't get all the particulars. I knew what Watergate was, mostly. I knew there was a huge conspiracy and that Nixon was "not a crook". Even though I wasn't especially into politics at that time, I knew that my opinions were less Republican and less conservative than, say, my friend's stepdad. I had a feeling this guy across the table from me was full of shit. But he meant every word he said. I do believe tears came to his eyes at the memory of Nixon. Whoa there, Tiger.

It's probably for the best that that particular friend and I sort of lost track as high school progressed.

As I was reading this, that stepdad came back into my memory. I can't remember his name anymore (though I seem to be thinking it was Rick?), but that morning's discussion really stuck with me, probably because it sat so uncomfortably with me at the time. Anytime I hear "Watergate" or "Nixon" I think of him, and I sort of shudder. At the same time, however, it's always been one of those areas in my knowledge of American History that is embarrassingly uninformed. I don't think it even came up that much in our history classes. Good job, teachers!

So I guess what I was expecting out of this would be one of those espionage/thriller types of things. Conspiracy and spies and secrets and stuff. What I wasn't expecting was a basically really long newspaper article.

Okay, I get it - Woodward and Bernstein were journalists, that's what they do. But I expect my journalists to be writers as well. Don't just state the facts, give me something interesting. There's a list of "characters" in the beginning of the book which I found exceptionally helpful because the authors' descriptions of these people were totally lackluster and, well, boring. I'm sure a lot of those people really were/are boring people. But that doesn't mean they have to be written boringly.

Parts of this book were pretty exciting. The way that Woodward and Deep Throat communicated was like the stuff you see in the movies, and it would have been great if the authors had maintained that sort of energy throughout their book. Instead it was just a smattering of facts (all of which are important, don't get me wrong) and names and figures and more names and more figures. Politics doesn't have to be boring! Especially if scandal is involved. Beef up that text, men! Show us what it means to be Pulitzer winners!

I can't say I learned a heck of a lot, even with all the facts. This book was written, I understand, because Robert Redford confronted them about buying the film rights if they wrote the book. The book wasn't even in existence yet when that offer was made. So this feels sort of like it was obligatory. They just wanted to get it out there, the ending was short, it feels a bit rushed at times like they wanted to get it out of their hair so they can go on to write the second part (The Final Days).

What I certainly did not find (not that I was expecting it) was any sense of sympathy for Nixon or any of his men that were involved in the scandal. I'm pretty sure that was intentional on Woodward and Bernstein's part - they wrote woodenly throughout, but they weren't in business to garner any sympathy for these devils.

It makes me think of Rick (if that indeed is his name), and I wonder if he read this book or watched the movie; and if so, how did he feel about it? It's not anything I'd want to sit down over a couple bowls of cereal to talk about now by any stretch of the imagination, but I can't help but wonder. He was likely the first person I had ever met who didn't call Nixon a [your obscenity of choice here]. At that age - mourning the loss of Cobain and otherwise being a sour, angsty young woman who just wanted to make it through her sophomore year - someone so pro-Nixon made an impression on me.
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Reading Progress

January 1, 2012 – Started Reading
January 1, 2012 – Shelved
January 2, 2012 –
page 136
January 2, 2012 – Shelved as: 20th-centurylit-late
January 2, 2012 – Shelved as: cultural-studies-and-other
January 2, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Chinook (new) - added it

Chinook Watch Frost/Nixon maybe - I was fascinated by that movie and I had no expectation that I'd like it much.

message 2: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Oh, hey, good idea. I think I recorded that once, it's probably still on my DVR somewhere. Maybe I'll do that this weekend, thanks!

message 3: by Julie (new)

Julie El, you really need to set your gender in goodreads because every time it tells me "El made a comment on their review", I want to scream.

message 4: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Hehe, Julie. Now where would be the fun in that??

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