Now, on the fortieth anniversary of Nixon’s resignation, Dean has done what Nixon, for all his monomania, knew he could never do: listen to “all that crap,” make transcripts of the cover-up-related conversations, and write his own history of what happened.
If for no other reason, Dean’s heroic labors of transcription make The Nixon Defense the most significant of the many Watergate-related books to appear during this anniversary year of Nixon’s resignation. Previous collections of transcripts, most notably Stanley Kutler’s Abuse of Power, which appeared in 1997, together contained, by Dean’s count, 447 Watergate conversations Dean has, with a team of assistants, made transcripts of the remaining six-hundred-plus exchanges.
His book thus stands as the first chronicle of the cover-up to make use of all nine-hundred-plus recordings on the subject. This huge body of new evidence joins an already voluminous mass of material that encompasses dozens of memoirs, court records of the Watergate trials, the report of the Senate Watergate committee led by North Carolina’s Sam Ervin, Haldeman’s detailed diaries, and reams of White House paper.
Together these sources enable Dean to plunge deeper than any previous account has into Nixon’s consuming obsession with Watergate during the year between the June 1972 break-in and July 1973, when the exposure of the taping system led Nixon to dismantle it.