8 Interesting Books to Understand the Watergate Scandal

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During the early 1970s, the Watergate scandal sent shockwaves around America and worldwide. The fall of Nixon and his administration was not a quiet one. Instead, it became the fascination of the world’s media. And even today, it remains one of the most poignant events in US political history. 

Whether you’re already well versed in the Watergate scandal or you’re brand new to the subject, and you’d like to learn more. Here’s a list of books for you to pursue on the topic.

These titles delve into the true story behind this iconic era and examine how and why events played out as they did. 

  1. The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein
  2. The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  3. The Fall of Richard Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate by Tom Brokaw
  4. In the Shadow of the White House by Jo Haldeman
  5. The Watergate Girl by Jill Wine-Banks
  6. Abuse of Power by Stanley Kutler
  7. Will by G. Gordon Liddy
  8. Watergate by Fred Emery
Sr. No.TitlePublication DatePrint Length
AuthorPublisher
Where to Buy
1The Invisible BridgeAugust 11, 2015880 pagesRick PerlsteinSimon & SchusterAmazon
2The Final DaysNovember 1, 2005496 pagesBob Woodward
Simon & Schuster; Reissue editionAmazon
3The Fall of Richard NixonNovember 10, 2020240 pagesTom BrokawRandom House TradeBook Shop
4In the Shadow of the White HouseMay 16, 2017464 pagesJo HaldemanRare Bird Books, A Vireo BookAmazon
5The Watergate GirlFebruary 25, 2020272 pagesJill Wine-BanksHenry Holt and Co.Amazon
6Abuse of PowerSeptember 22, 1998704 pagesStanley KutlerFree PressBook Shop
7WillJanuary 1, 1980374 pages G. Gordon LIDDY St MartinsAmazon
8WatergateSeptember 01, 1995576 pagesFred EmeryTouchstone BooksBook Shop

1. The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein

The Invisible Bridge The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein
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At the start of 1973, when President Nixon declared the end of the Vietnam War, he still clung to hopes of a second term. But when Watergate hearings showed the public the true nature of his administration, his house of cards truly began to fall. 

The Invisible Bridge examines the events in the early part of this tumultuous decade and their effects on the national psyche. 

But, as Perlstein explains, the chaos of that era had only begun. In the aftermath of Watergate, the economy fell to its knees. The Vietnam War divided the nation, and public trust continued to tank as a US Senate. The investigation exposed the true extent of the CIA’s role in illegal political assassinations. 

The events of Watergate had ushered in a new era in politics, and the effect on the national mood was palpable. For the first time in memory, America was revealed as vulnerable and flawed as any other nation. This sparked an irreversible shift in the public’s perception of power. 

2. The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
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The Final Days is a follow-up to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s 1974 book, All the President’s Men. It focuses on the notorious White House Tapes and the gritty process of Nixon’s impeachment before his resignation. 

Two years later, Woodward and Bernstein brought us this fascinating blow-by-blow account of the final days of the Nixon administration. 

The authors take a behind-the-scenes look at the president’s dramatic fall from grace in the bitter aftermath of Watergate. They dig in and present the administration’s desperate attempts to cling to power for as long as possible before it all came crashing down.

3. The Fall of Richard Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate by Tom Brokaw

The Fall of Richard Nixon A Reporter Remembers Watergate by Tom Brokaw
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Nixon’s final year as the 37th president of the United States was one of the most dramatic in all political history. And NBC News Whitehouse Correspondent Tom Brokaw had a front-row seat for the entire duration. 

Through the book, Brokaw walks us through the events that took place throughout the concluding year of Watergate. It talks about cover-ups, deceptions, and the untold stories of those on the inside. 

“Tom Brokaw arrived in Washington as the rising young star of broadcast news just as the presidency of Richard Nixon was collapsing. Brokaw has intertwined his own story with Nixon’s in a way that is readable, revealing, and always fascinating.” –Evan Thomas, author of the bestselling Richard Nixon biography, Being Nixon.

4. In the Shadow of the White House by Jo Haldeman

In the Shadow of the White House A Memoir of the Washington and Watergate Years, 1968-1978 by Jo Haldeman
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Jo Haldeman had lived an ordinary life as a doting mother of four, filling her time with volunteering work in her community. But in 1968, as Richard Nixon swore his presidential oath and her husband, H. R. Haldeman became White House Chief of Staff, and that changed everything.

It was the beginning of a decade of incredible opportunities and immense challenges. It changed the course of her family’s lives forever. 

As the wife of the second most powerful person in the office, Jo had a unique insight into the world of Washington politics behind closed doors. And for much of that turbulent time, she sat quietly behind the scenes as the biggest scandal of the century unfolded. But now, she’s ready to tell her story to the world. 

Jo’s raw, honest delivery makes this memoir feel more like a novel than a work of nonfiction. Her first-hand account portrays what it was like to be ‘the woman behind the man.’ From her husband’s early months in office to his eventual trial, conviction, and imprisonment, she talks about all. 

5. The Watergate Girl by Jill Wine-Banks

The Watergate Girl by Jill Wine-Banks
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Watergate prosecution lawyer Jill Wine-Banks was part of the team that served justice to the highest-ranking official in the United States. As the only woman on the prosecution, Banks exposes the events that unraveled behind the scenes of this chaotic time. 

She sheds light on the crimes committed by the Nixon administration and the attempts made to cover them up. And these covers up included the men who rifled through her garbage, tapped her phones, and burgled her house during the trial.

And from her personal perspective, she explains her constant battle to be treated with respect by her male colleagues and the press because she was dubbed as “the mini-skirted lawyer” to belittle her. 

But thanks to her tenacity and refusal to quit, she overcame every hurdle put in her way. After Nixon’s resignation in disgrace, Banks became the first female US Army General Counsel and the first female Director of the American Bar Association. 

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6. Abuse of Power by Stanley Kutler

Stanley Kutler
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If it wasn’t for Nixon’s own taped recordings, the world might never have known the true extent of his corruption during his time in office. And if it wasn’t for author Stanley Kutler, those tapes might never have been fully released to the public. 

But thanks to Cutler’s unwavering efforts and legal battles, which went on for decades, these recordings are available for all to hear.

As incriminating as they are enlightening, these tapes have given us a unique insight into what it was like to be America’s most disgraced public figure, and this book details the key highlights of each one. 

“We better forget the Goddamn campaign right this minute, not tomorrow, no. That’s what concerns me. We have all this power, and we aren’t using it,” President Nixon.

7. Will by G. Gordon Liddy

Will by G. Gordon Liddy
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Former FBI agent Gordon Liddy was an imposing figure who pushed the boundaries of acceptability throughout his career. But as one of the key conspirators of the Watergate break-in, his notoriety reached dizzying heights as the scandal was exposed to the world. 

Yet as unsavory as this character may be to some, his 1996 autobiography gives a truly captivating insight into the events that led up to Watergate. He also talks about the political culture and mentality that allowed those events to occur throughout the book. 

It is one of the few books to give us a glimpse into Watergate from the perspective of the perpetrators. He lays out eye-opening, previously unheard details of the event. And also provides a colorful and revealing portrayal of his fellow conspirators. This controversial book is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand the events of the past and the present political climate of America. 

8. Watergate by Fred Emery

Watergate by Fred Emery
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This enlightening read was written as a companion to the 1994 BBC Discovery documentary, narrated by Emery. But this comprehensive narrative history is much more than a mere accompaniment to that project. It’s a standalone book in its own right that provides us with exciting details of the events that led up to Watergate and the dramatic aftermath that followed.

Emery explains how from the moment Nixon was sworn into office; he began conspiring to abuse his power. Within months, Jack Caulfield was hired to spy on the democrats. This actually gave way to the Huston Plan, the covert Whitehouse Plumbers project, and the espionage plots against antiwar activists. 

 And finally, the infamous break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s Watergate headquarters. 

Emery presents the facts in a digestive, easy-to-follow way. As a result, his book serves as a fascinating first introduction to the Watergate scandal. And it also offers plenty of new insights to those who already know this piece of political history well.

Conclusion

The Watergate Scandal was one of the most tumultuous times in American political history. Even today, almost half a century later, it’s still a hot topic for historians and politicians alike. 

If you’re keen to learn more about Watergate and the tumultuous era of Nixon’s presidency, then these books are a great place to start.

If you’ve read any great books about the Watergate scandal that I’ve missed from this list, feel free to recommend it in the comments box below!

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