I wondered at various times while reading Thomas Mallon’s Watergate: A Novel if other readers less interested in Richard Nixon, and the themes surrounding “a third-rate burglary” would be as amused with the book.
To be honest, I am not sure of the answer.
Since my teenage years I have loved the rollicking career of Nixon, and from reading too many books can separate my Magruder from Hunt and Mitchell. While I wanted to tell others I met about the book I was unsure how much one needed to have already known–or cared–about the topics to find this book a gem. I suspect that Mallon is writing for a crowd who already has a fair amount of Watergate knowledge.
Mostly I have stayed quiet about the read, though the critics have been vocal in their love for the work.
Even though Mallon is one of our most esteemed historical novelists lets face the truth that Nixon is not everyone’s favorite topic for a spring-time read. While I think this a great book for the beach this summer I can see many a reader to this blog smirking and disagreeing.
While I am trying to be honest with my readers, I also do not want to dissuade anyone from picking up this novel. If you might be taken in by Mallon’s work about Watergate than by all means please pick up a copy as I can attest the writing and humor is superbly delivered.
There were times when reading late at night I needed to move to a different room if the character of Alice Roosevelt Longworth was making a scene so my hearty laughing would not wake up my better half. Longworth proved to be the most lively and colorful of the kaleidoscope of personalities that Mallon brought back to life. I dare one not to snort over “The clock is dick-dick-dicking”.
The author creates a work of inference to weave all the plots and acts and questions of the time into one volume which then allows the reader to think that perhaps by the end of the book they know the inside story.
But in the end will we ever know?
Richard Nixon took many a secret with him to the grave, and I think HRH did too.