• Title: Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate
  • Author: Bob Woodward
  • Released: 1999-06-15
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 608
  • ISBN: 0684852624
  • ISBN13: 978-0684852621
  • ASIN: 0684852624
There are two ways to look at this bestseller by Watergate scoopmeister Woodward. First, it's an original take on Clinton's sex scandal, framing it as the latest consequence of Nixon's assault on the U.S. political system. Woodward sketches each president's tussles with scandal managing after Watergate permanently turned up the press heat on the White House. Ford lies about a meeting concerning a potential deal to pardon Nixon, but remains convinced he did nothing wrong. Carter's pious advocacy of truth telling backfires when he's confronted with conundrums involving his pal Bert Lance, the fallout from CIA-provided hookers, and cash for King Hussein. Reagan's men try to make him understand the lies and shocking wrongness of the Iran-Contra debacle, but he simply, stubbornly doesn't get it. And by the time prosecutors interview Reagan in 1992, he's so ill he can't remember his own oldest friends and advisers.

All provocative stuff, some of it new. But most readers will flip to the book's second half, a fly-on-the-wall account of the backroom mud-wrestling in both the Clinton and Starr camps in the Monicagate morass. It's a trove of racy facts (mostly from anonymous sources). We read that Clinton called Nixon a "war criminal," yet tried to minimize Watergate in his Nixon eulogy, that he disgusted Ford and Jack Nicklaus by cheating while golfing with them, and that he kept falsely assuring aides, "I'm retired! [as an adulterer]." We hear Hillary's alleged words of agony and see the pain on Bill's face after Chelsea reads on the Internet. Starr comes off like RoboCop without the human side. Woodward calls him "pathetic and unwise" in rejecting his staff's urgent demand not to send the lurid details of presidential sex to Congress. "I love the narrative!" Starr weirdly exulted, according to Woodward's new Deep Throat (or Throats). Since Monica was interrogated at Starr's mother-in-law's apartment, which he called "Grandma's place," ethics expert Sam Dash suggested they call it "Operation Red Riding Hood." What sharp teeth everyone in this book has!

To tell the truth, Woodward doesn't really knit together 25 years' worth of scandals into a single strong narrative. But the Clinton part is the closest thing yet to what we all crave: a tale of Monicagate with some of the flavor of a John Grisham thriller. --Tim Appelo

From Library Journal In this best seller, veteran Washington Post reporter Woodward traces the impact that President Nixon's Watergate scandal has had on his five successors. Woodward presents an introduction, and then reader James Naughton takes over in a youthful voice somewhat similar to the author's own. Woodward's argument is that the fallout from the Watergate scandal has changed the political climate in Washington and affected both incumbents and candidates in various ways. Gerald Ford, for example, found his incumbency tarred by the pardon he issued Nixon, and many believe he lost the election for that reason; Jimmy Carter felt compelled to say that he would never lie to the American people and was embarrassed when he could not sustain the fiction; Ronald Reagan was unaffected until the Iran-contra scandal broke; George Bush seemed unaware that the media could turn on him once Desert Storm was behind him and could not handle the results; and Bill Clinton entered scandal after scandal and made many of the same errors of dissimulation that Nixon did and barely survived, being only the second president in history to be impeached. The common thread throughout these years was, in part, the altered attitude of the press, which at one time overlooked behaviors that now are the targets of aggressive investigative reporting. Presidential privacy in particular has faded with the times, and Woodward describes its continued erosion. Students of modern politics should find this presentation engaging. The author's persona is so authoritative and his knowledge of the subjects so deep that the listener learns a great deal. For public library and undergraduate collections.
-Don Wismer, Cary Memorial Lib., Wayne, ME
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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