August 2014 Book of the Month

The August book of the month is “The Nixon Defense” by John W. Dean.

Summary (from the publisher):

Nixon DefenseBased on Nixon’s overlooked recordings, New York Times bestselling author John W. Dean connects the dots between what we’ve come to believe about Watergate and what actually happened

Watergate forever changed American politics, and in light of the revelations about the NSA’s widespread surveillance program, the scandal has taken on new significance. Yet remarkably, four decades after Nixon was forced to resign, no one has told the full story of his involvement in Watergate.

In The Nixon Defense, former White House Counsel John W. Dean, one of the last major surviving figures of Watergate, draws on his own transcripts of almost a thousand conversations, a wealth of Nixon’s secretly recorded information, and more than 150,000 pages of documents in the National Archives and the Nixon Library to provide the definitive answer to the question: What did President
Nixon know and when did he know it?

Through narrative and contemporaneous dialogue, Dean connects dots that have never been connected, including revealing how and why the Watergate break-in occurred, what was on the mysterious 18 1/2 minute gap in Nixon’s recorded conversations, and more.

In what will stand as the most authoritative account of one of America’s worst political scandals, The Nixon Defense shows how the disastrous mistakes of Watergate could have been avoided and offers a cautionary tale for our own time.

Review Excerpts:

The New York Times – Robert Dallek

Mr. Dean’s book will remind people of why Nixon deserves so unflattering a historical reputation, despite the opening to China and détente with the Soviet Union. It should also serve as a renewed cautionary tale about elevating politicians with questionable character to high office…

The secret of Nixon tapes’ 18-minute gap revealed – Lauren Tousignant

Despite four decades of literature from historians, journalists, academics and politicians, questions remain. Who ordered the break-in at the DNC headquarters on June 17, 1972? What was erased from the infamous 18 ½ minute gap? How much did Nixon know about the cover-up?

John W. Dean, a member of Nixon’s White House counsel who would spend four months in jail for his involvement in the cover-up, aims to finally answer these questions in his latest book, “The Nixon Defense.”

Reviews: ‘The Nixon Defense,’ – Bob Woodward

The book contains no new blockbusters, but the new tapes suggest that the full story of the Nixon administration’s secret operations may forever remain buried along with their now-deceased perpetrators. For example, on Oct. 10, 1972, Carl Bernstein and I wrote in The Washington Post that Watergate was not an isolated operation but only part of a massive campaign of political espionage and sabotage run by the Nixon reelection committee and the White House. Dean writes that the story “reframed Watergate as more than a mere bungled burglary at the DNC.”


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Contact us for information on when the book club meets, or to secure one of the generously donated books.

July 2014 Book of the Month

The July 2014 Book of the Month is “The Book of Life” by Deborah Harkness.

Summary (from the publisher):

the book of lifeAfter traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.


Review Exerpts:

A bewitching end to All Souls Trilogy – Paula L. Woods

Sure, characters occasionally fail to acknowledge each other despite interactions in previous novels, and the date of an infamous attempt to steal the British crown jewels is off by a few hundred years. Devoted fans will scarcely notice, absorbed by Diana’s and Matthew’s battles to win freedom for their unconventional family and Harkness’ skillful mingling of fictional and historical figures like the Knights of Lazarus, Salem witch trial defendant Bridget Bishop or Countess Erzsébet, an infamous 16th century serial killer.

“The Book of Life,” like its predecessors, is ultimately grounded in the abiding love of two creatures the world tries to keep apart, as blacks were segregated from whites or Jews from Christians in world history: “Impossible as it was, they fit,” Matthew thinks, “vampire and witch, man and woman, husband and wife.”

A supernatural family reunion in ‘The Book of Life’ – Genevieve Valentine

Harkness’ style feels strained here, perhaps as a result of trying to scale a mountain of plot (her nonfiction has an effortless confidence that’s reflected in some of Shadow of Night’s most charming moments, but is largely absent here). Her love for alchemy and the details of spellcraft make Diana’s witchy moments some of the book’s most vibrant, standing out from the cavalcade of heavily populated subplots whose payoffs are rarely equal to the previous novels’ escalating stakes (sorry). But by now, those who enjoy the series are here to watch Diana and the de Clermont vampire clan triumph. And for them, The Book of Life acts mostly as a family reunion for those longtime readers who have followed the mystery of Ashmole 782 since the beginning.

Book Review: ‘The Book of Life’ by Deborah Harkness – by Daneet Steffens

The charm in Deborah Harkness’s wildly successful All Souls trilogy lies not merely in the spells that its creature characters cast as they lurk pretty much in plain sight of humans, but in the adroit way Harkness has insinuated her world of demons, witches, and vampires into ours. As has been frequently noticed, it’s not unlike J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potterverse of wizards, witches, and muggles, but since hers are novels for adults, Harkness gets away with double entendres and PDAs (private displays of affection) that would make Harry, Hermione, and Ron blush.

The July 2014 book of the month is sponsored by Drink Chamed.  Beautiful wine accessories for any party or event.  Please support the businesses that support us!

Contact us for information on when the book club meets, or to secure one of the generously donated books.