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Blind Ambition: The End of the Story

de John W. Dean

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About the only reason I don't give this and similar books a "5" is that this was the era of "piling on." Anything that spread bile about Nixon was taken as true hook, line and sinker. I happen to think Nixon was a thug, but there are limits. ( )
  JBGUSA | Mar 31, 2013 |
Published in 1976, Blind Ambition was attorney John Dean's personal account of the inner workings of US president Richard Nixon's administration, and the Watergate scandal that engulfed it. Dean served as White House counsel, and became involved in the cover-up to the Watergate crimes. His testimony led to Nixon's resignation, as well as trial and conviction of several figures in his administration, including Dean himself.

Granting that Blind Ambition remains one of the most important books of the "Watergate scandal", why should contemporary readers care to seek out an updated edition more than three decades later? For very good reasons, as it turns out. Many political conservatives have never forgiven Dean for his testimony and for not agreeing to be a scapegoat for the crimes of the President and his staff. Accordingly, over the years, various revisionist accounts of the scandal have sought to blame John Dean directly for the crimes in question. One outlandish book claims that Dean himself masterminded the Watergate break-in and cover-up -- not for political reasons at all, but to protect his fiance who was (supposedly) involved in a prostitution ring. Dean has succesfully sued the authors of such claims (including convicted felon Gordon Liddy, of Watergate fame). Any full account of the Watergate scandal needs to consider its aftermath, and that is one important feature the updated work provides.

The 2009 edition of Blind Ambition contains an extended (92 page) Afterword that offers insights and information regarding several significant issues. First, Dean describes how and when he wrote Blind Ambition. In response to claims that he didn't actually write the book, he details how ghost writer Taylor Branch took his manuscript and worked with him to make it publishable. Second, based on a number of sources unavailable in 1976 (including the "Nixon tapes"), Dean reveals what really happened inside the White House during the "Watergate" years, including: (a) the illegal 1971 break-in at the liberal Brookings Institute in Washington, now known to have been ordered directly by Nixon; (b) the bizarre crimes planned by White House operative Gordon Liddy, such as the burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist and of the Democratic National Committee (as well as other crimes not actually carried out, i.e., assassination of a newspaper columnist Jack Anderson, and drugging of Daniel Ellsberg with LSD); (c) the real reason for the successive burglaries of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel (to get financial "dirt" on the Democratic Party); (d) a major reason for the cover-up (to prevent investigators from finding out about the 1971 Brookings Institute burglary); (e) when the White House staff knew what the Watergate burglary was all about (within 3 days of the break-in, if not sooner); (f) the stupidity and clumsiness of the Watergate burglars and of Gordon Liddy, who oversaw the operation.

Third, and most significantly, Dean takes on the Watergate revisionists (including the authors of Silent Coup, as well as Gordon Liddy who waged a very public vendetta against John Dean and his wife Maureen). Dean thoroughly nails the revisionists, demonstrating the dishonest nature of their claims, and tracing the lengthy 10 year legal battle he waged against them and their publishers. Finally, Dean raises a few questions that persist about the Watergate mess, and reflects on how the scandal came to light, and his own role in revealing it.

In sum, Blind Ambition remains a significant work of history and politics, one that should be consulted in any full consideration of the Nixon presidency. The 2009 edition is now the definitive version of that important work. ( )
4 vote danielx | Nov 23, 2011 |
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Please do not combine the 2009 "Blind Ambition: The End of the Story" with the 1976 version "Blind Edition: The White House Years."
The 2009 edition includes extended additions in response to the Watergate revisionists.
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