In 1968, Air Force Colonel Alexander P. Butterfield was assigned to a duty station in Australia. His shot at making general required that he either get an assignment to Vietnam or go to where the ‘power’ resides—an assignment to Washington, DC. Through a college classmate, H.R. Haldeman, Butterfield was assigned as an aide in the Nixon White House, with duties described as ‘internal security.’ In his job, Butterfield had an office right next to Nixon’s, and was often the first to see him in the morning, and the last to see him at night. Most significantly, though, it was Butterfield who was responsible for installing Nixon’s secret taping system, the very thing that led to his resignation from the presidency after Butterfield publicly revealed its existence.
The Last of the President’s Men by Bob Woodward, the journalist who first exposed Watergate to the world, is an in depth tale of the Nixon that few people knew, told by a man who probably knew him better than anyone, including his own wife. Haldeman interviewed Butterfield extensively some 41 years after the events that led to Nixon’s downfall, and had access to hundreds of pages of documents that Butterfield took with him when he left the White House. Together, this book gives us a never-before-seen look at the man known as Tricky Dick, and puts a new perspective on his misdeeds while in office, and his abrasive, paranoid, ego-driven personality.
Given the political events of 2016, this book is required reading for anyone who wants to understand what motivates some American politicians and the dangers associated with the politics of personality that characterized the 2016 elections. Regardless of your political views or party affiliation, this book will make you think about politics in a different way.
I received this book as a gift.
I give it five stars.