While I love the movie Dick I graduated high school knowing the true identity of Deepthroat. I was born about 15 years after January 1973 but it is impossible to be an American citizen and be unaware of the three events that make up Robenalt’s book.
In a strange way, the abortion decision matched Nixon’s political manifesto of self-reliance and his new “ask what I can do for myself” philosophy.
A run down of what is covered in a brief 308 pages:
– Roe v. Wade (and Doe v. Wade)
– Negotiations for peace in Vietnam
-Truman’s death (Dec. 27 1972, but covered)
-the Watergate trial
I thought the most interesting part, perhaps because I did not know this previously, was that Nixon had nominated four of the nine justices who decided on Roe v. Wade. He believed he had stacked the deck in his favor but three of those four voted abortion was a fundamental right and rejected the fetal “right to life” argument. At the same time Nixon was faltering in the public opinion after bombing Vietnam over the Christmas holidays. Favoring an approach of “not losing” a war they were clearly not going to win, Nixon began negotiations for a peace treaty with Vietnam.
However the most dominating headline in January of 1973 was the Watergate trial which would eventually hand out guilty verdicts to James McCord and Gordon Liddy (with Howard Hunt & the four “Miamians” pleading guilty mid-trial). It would take nearly two years for the Watergate scandal to catch up to Nixon, causing his resignation.
While this was a competent, well researched, piece of non-fiction it also felt a bit rushed. I wonder what Robenalt could have done with another 100 pages to expands on some events. Then again, the writing was a little too similar to a text book, and repetitive at times, so perhaps its for the best it was kept brief. You probably won’t come away from this one with any change in your existing opinion on Nixon but it is an interesting look at the start of the 37th president’s second term of office.