Now the best and fullest account of the Watergate crisis, one unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon.

WATERGATE

A NEW HISTORY

A half-century after the Watergate break-in, this anniversary history becomes the standard-setting base line for all future ones.

For all of Richard Nixon’s achievements, the sometimes-unbelievable, always lurid Watergate scandal forever stains his reputation. Graff, the director of cyber initiatives at the Aspen Institute, sees the crisis as the result of amateurish fumbling rather than criminal forethought, but he attributes to the Nixon administration the “darker, racialized, nativist, fear-mongering strain of the Republican Party and American politics that would a half century later find its natural conclusion in Donald Trump.” Letting the story speak for itself, Graff intervenes principally to point to inconsistencies in participants’ testimonies or subjects for further investigation, such as a tantalizing thread of links to Chile. The text is a brisk, riveting, compulsively readable, comprehensive, up-to-date narrative of the entire tangled affair, and it’s hard to imagine it better told. While you learn new things about the major figures, people you’ve never heard of, all masterfully introduced and as numerous, colorful, deceitful, and laugh-inducing as characters in a Dickens’ novel, walk on stage. Back-biting, betrayals, interagency spying, wild improvisation, collective paranoia, and sheer White House chaos are running leitmotifs. Much of this is well known. Graff’s contribution is to bring it all together, add his sharp-eyed questions about what doesn’t make sense or still needs to be known, and energetically drive forward the story of what’s known from available evidence. The book’s principal limitations are its inattention to the outside pressures—legal challenges, mounting public outcry, and the like—that contributed to the scandal’s outcome and to historians’ contribution to the House Impeachment Inquiry. Graff also downplays the value of the Nixon tapes, which Michael Dobbs explored insightfully in King Richard. But in every other respect, this should be considered the authoritative history of its subject.

Now the best and fullest account of the Watergate crisis, one unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982139-16-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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