NONFICTION

Bringing Down a President: The Watergate Scandal

Roaring Brook. Aug. 2019. 240p. bibliog. chron. index. notes. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250176790.
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Gr 7-10–Richard Nixon wrote a single sentence to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on August 9, 1974. It read: “I hereby resign the Office of President of the United States.” Nixon became the first president ever to resign from office. What led up to the resignation, including possible impeachment, is the premise of Balis and Levy’s book that features well-placed illustrations by Foley. Organized in chronological order that introduces the cast of characters with the heading “The Game Begins,” the presentation of the accounts of the Watergate scandal adequately brings the story to life with primary source materials. Yet there is one distracting element: the repetition of “fly on the wall” in the narrative. While Balis and Levy introduce the idiom in their introduction, it is an unnecessary and distracting addition to this straightforward nonfiction that reads like any captivating true crime novel. Idiom aside, breaking down the confusing sequence of events about this presidential cover-up from nearly a half century ago provides an opportunity for historical reflection that may have escaped the consciousness of teen readers.
VERDICT The book’s unbiased presentation is refreshing. Its focus on the human aspects of Watergate, equally so. Ultimately, Balis and Levy walk readers through the scandal with expertise. A compelling book that deserves to be on the shelf

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