You are here
In a decade often accused of being anticlimactic, Watergate was the Seventies' uncontested contribution to milestone history. There is nothing small, ephemeral, or, heaven knows, anticlimactic about the scandal that brought down President Nixon—and, with him, a whole post-war era of politics. This was high tragedy.
On this, the fortieth anniversary of the historic resignation, there is much chatter about those days. Some commentators attempt to place Nixon's entire administration into a broad (you might say massive) historical context; others seek to titillate by exposing Nixon's seemingly endless moments of pettiness and paranoia. With Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate, Ken Hughes, whom Bob Woodward calls "one of America's foremost experts on secret presidential recordings," turns to the White House tapes to offer a clear narrative about the pattern of covert activity that not only brought Nixon down but which reveals something essential about his character and why his acts still resonate so strongly.
The book's powerful argument has been getting serious attention. The Washington Post calls it "the best account yet of Nixon’s devious interference with Lyndon Johnson’s 1968 Vietnam War negotiations, shows just how early Nixon’s dirty tricks began and just how deeply he was involved." The Post has also published a piece by George Will that succinctly lays out Hughes's case. Shelf Awareness, which describes Chasing Shadows as "full of fascinating scenes and candid conversations pulled verbatim from Nixon's tapes" and "compelling as a novel," has published a fascinating Q&A with Hughes. The Atlantic emphasizes the continually unfolding aspect if the Watergate saga: "Hughes shows that we still have much to learn by connecting the dots of Nixon’s angry venting and the shadowy world of national-security spying." And as the New York Times noted, a recent Nixon event at which Hughes joined Carl Bernstein and Carl Woodward was so well attended, "the line stretched down the block." A video clip from the event may be viewed here. More coverage may be found in Politico, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus.
Chasing Shadows is available now at bookstores everywhere.