Did you know that if you go to Wikipedia and search for the name of any of the people that prosecuted Nixon during Watergate, you’re no more than two links away from Ted Kennedy? I tried it with more than 10 prosecutors and investigators before giving up.
In Shepard’s telling, the Watergate break-ins were used by the Kennedy clan to destroy Nixon’s Presidency, the Republican fund-raising apparatus, and any potential Republican Presidential nominees for the upcoming 1976 election. This destruction would allow Ted Kennedy to enter the White House. The scandal that resulted was blown up by the Kennedy clan with some late assistance from John Dean.
The one thing this theory has going for it, is that Watergate accomplished very little other than paving the way for Democratic victories in 1976.
Shepard has an axe to grind, but his account is first-hand.
I’ve read enough books about Watergate to know that I have no idea what was going on at any point during the ordeal. I don’t know what really happened and I don’t trust any historian who says that he does.
There are some gaping holes in the mainstream version of the story.
For example, we know that Nixon or his delegates didn’t really do much that previous Presidents hadn’t also done. The Presidency got pretty dirty starting with FDR. JFK stole a freakin’ election and yet everyone freaks out about a break-in at a hotel room. At roughly the same time, Ted Kennedy killed a person (apparently, one must take this drastic step to make it so that Joe Kennedy cannot turn one into a President). Why is Nixon still considered such a criminal compared to these other politicians and Presidents?
Shepard’s book has the merit of filling in the gaps, but in doing so, it creates some new ones. For example, Shepard doesn’t explain why Nixon’s people were breaking into a hotel room. Shepard doesn’t explain why Ted Kennedy didn’t actually run for President in 1976 (other than that whole driving-a-woman-off-a-cliff incident) or why Kennedy make such a weird attempt to run in 1980.
Shepard’s book is not for beginners. He assumes you know the characters and are familiar with the events. His book is a rant against the people who he believes screwed Nixon. He’s probably largely correct, but there’s a lot more to the story. Again, this book illustrates the point that if you only read mainstream and second-hand accounts of history, you have no idea what actually happened. Similarly, you need to read multiple primary sources. History is hard work. If you haven’t done the hard work, you don’t know history.
(I’m pretty sure that this book was a Moldbug recommendation, but I can’t figure out where and when he recommended it).