Friday, February 22, 2019

Book Review: All The President's Men

book cover for All The President's MenMaybe you've read the book. Maybe you've seen the movie. Maybe you're old enough to remember the events as they happened. Regardless, it's difficult not to be aware of the Watergate scandal. In light of the current spate of troubles that plague the current occupier of the White House, it seemed like this was a good time to revisit this book.

The narrative is a bit dry. It takes a "just the facts" approach with very little attempt to provide any sort of color. No effort was made to heighten the tension surrounding the events they reported on. I suppose an argument can be made that Bernstein and Woodward didn't want to sensationalize the account of what was, at the time, developing into one of the biggest political scandals in American history. Need more drama? Watch the movie.

But what the book lacks in narrative, it makes up in thoroughness of details. We're with each reporter as they follow up on leads, real or false. Woodward's late night meetings with Deep Throat in the parking garage. The back and forth between the editors and the reporters as they decide whether or not they have enough evidence to run a story. The interviews with named and unnamed sources and the reporters efforts to protect them. Denials and backpedaling from people in the administration. The threats, real and implicit, made to the reporters, the editors, the Washington Post. While no one called the free press the enemy of the people, they were certainly considered enemies of the state.

Reading this book is a reminder that there was more going on than the break-in at the Watergate. This was a nationwide campaign of political espionage and sabotage. And the attempt to cover it up with denials, counterattacks on the press, and outright lies in the wake of an investigation yielding indictments and convictions sounds all too familiar with what we're hearing today.


Monday, February 18, 2019

Book Review: The Essential Scratch Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All

book cover for The Essential Scratch Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-AllIf by "know-it-all" the author means a Cliff Clavin type, then yes, you'll be a whiskey know-it-all. I believe though that the title is meant as hyperbole because marketing demands it. That's not to say that the book isn't educational, far from it. There's a great deal of entry level information here, and I certainly learned a few things, and I'm sure that with what I gained I could certainly fake the rest (For the record, I have never considered myself a whiskey know-it-all).

The scratch & sniff tabs were a neat idea, but half of them didn't work. I found the wheel of whisky chart in the back of the book to be more useful, showing where various brands and varieties fit and thus leading to suggestions of others to try.

3.5 stars.