No President has taped Oval conversations so thoroughly or found himself in as much trouble as Richard Nixon. He and his heirs fought for years to keep hours of these sensitive recordings from ever being released. Now Stanley I. Kutler, an emminent historian and one of the principle parties to the lawsuit that forced the tapes release, has edited and annotated every tape concerning abuses of power from Nixon's entire presidency. Among the breathtaking revelations are evidence of Nixon's direct role in the obstruction of justice during the 'Watergate' investigation to the proposal for a $5 million scheme to secretly finance a black candidate for president in order to split the democratic vote. Nixon's own voice and those of his closest advisors expose an administration steeped in corruption. Revealing unprecedented details about White House activities as well as painting a vivid portrait of a paranoid and narcissistic world leader - ABUSE OF POWER is a fascinating look into the inner workings of America's most notorious presidency.
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More than 20 years after the Watergate scandal that brought down his presidency, the character of Richard M. Nixon continues to fascinate us. Many books have been written about Nixon, and about Watergate, but perhaps none sheds so revealing a light on the late president as Stanley I. Kutler's Abuse of Power. In the years following Watergate, as Nixon fought to rebuild his reputation from the ruins of his shattered presidency, he fought fiercely to suppress publication of most of the secret tapes that led to his downfall. During his lifetime, only about 60 hours of the almost 4,000 that exist were ever made public, and even after his death his estate continued to obstruct further releases. Then, in 1996, Kutler, along with the advocacy group Public Citizen, won a landmark decision to release the tapes.
Among other things, Abuse of Power definitively answers the question of whether Nixon was directly involved in raising hush money (he was) and suggests a reason for the burglary attempt at the Watergate Hotel (financial documents that might have linked the Democratic Party chairman to Howard Hughes). The tapes also reveal the vindictive and bigoted side to Nixon's personality, particularly as he discusses "killing" the Washington Post, and blames rich Jews for Billy Graham's tax problems. Abuse of Power only covers an additional 201 hours of tape of the near 4,000 that remain unreleased. It seems that the final chapter on Watergate has yet to be written.From the Publisher:
Richard Nixon said he wanted his administration to be "the best chronicled in history." But when Alexander Butterfield disclosed the existence of a voice-activated taping system to a Senate committee in July 1973, Nixon's White House and its recordings quickly became the most infamous in American history. The tapes dominated the final two years of Nixon's presidency, and almost single-handedly forced his resignation.
But only 60 hours were actually made public in the 1970s. Many thousands of hours remained secret and in Nixon's hands, and he fought fiercely to keep them that way right up to his death. Finally, thanks to a lawsuit brought by historian Stanley I. Kutler with the advocacy group Public Citizen, a landmark 1996 settlement with the Nixon estate and the National Archives is bringing over 3,000 hours of tapes to light. The initial release in November 1996 of over 200 hours of material comprised all those conversations concerning abuse of power -- every Watergate-related tape, as well as those concerning many other campaign misdeeds and some Pentagon Papers discussions. Finally, the full story of Nixon's downfall can be told.
From Ehrlichman's saying, "Dean's been admonished not to contrive a story that's liable not to succeed" to Nixon's asking, "Is the line pretty well set now on, when asked about Watergate, as to what everybody says and does, to stonewall?" Abuse of Power reveals a much more extensive cover-up than ever realized. From Colson's announcing, "Well, we did a little dirty trick this morning" to Nixon's ordering a McGovern watch "around the clock" to the planting of a spy in Ted Kennedy's Secret Service detail, Abuse of Power redefines the meaning of campaign tactics. And from a worried discussion of Dwayne Andreas's "bag man" to Nixon's stating that the burglars "have to be paid. That's all there is to that," to a quiet conversation with Rose Mary Woods to see if there remained $100,000 in his safe for "a campaign thing that we're talking about," here is a money trail that anyone can follow.
Packed with revelations on almost every page, the Abuse of Power tapes offer a spellbinding portrait of raw power and a Shakespearean depiction of a king and his court. Never have the personalities of Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Colson, Haig, Kissinger, Dean, and Mitchell been so vividly captured with the spoken word. And never has an American President offered such a revealing record of his darkest self.
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