Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years


by J. Anthony Lukas Viking, $15.00
“Here at last,” say his publishers, “is the big Watergate book for which Americans have been waiting.” Well, maybe. Lukas is an experienced—indeed distinguished—reporter whose coverage of the Watergate story filled two entire issues of the New York Times Magazine, first in the summer of 1973 and then early in 1974. He wrote another major magazine piece, his publishers report, but its discussion of Nixon’s impending impeachment became academic when the embattled President voluntarily resigned his office.
Lukas has added to his three lengthy magazine pieces, extending the story to include Nixon’s resignation, and now offers a meticulously detailed reconstruction of the Watergate case and its immediate political antecedents.
Each Watergate book, of course, has the advantage of knowing all that has been uncovered by its predecessors, and Lukas makes the necessary genuflections to Woodward and Bernstein, George Higgins, and others who have covered approximately the same ground. What was astonishing and sinister in 1973, however, is now merely part of the record.
While Lukas’ book advances few theories or interpretations of its own, its virtues include thoroughness, clarity, and a historian’s guiding intelligence.
—C. Michael Curtis