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Playlist: Watergate (50th Anniversary)

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Image by: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum 
Curated Playlist

June 17th marks 50 years since the infamous break-in.

Nixon at War: How Vietnam Led to Watergate

From Nixon at War | 52:00

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in (June 17th, 1972), writer, historian, and Peabody Award-winning Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen tracks the story of Richard Nixon's spectacular fall back upstream, to a different, and much earlier, source -- the War in Vietnam. A one-hour distillation of the recent and acclaimed seven-part podcast on the same subject, that Nixon biographer Evan Thomas called "the smartest and clearest (and most entertaining) explanation of this tangled mess that I have ever heard."


Most accounts of the collapse of Richard Nixon’s presidency begin with Watergate —-the familiar tale of a bungled break-in and wiretap attempt at Democratic headquarters and the White House cover-up that followed. But what led to Watergate?  How —- and why —- did one of the shrewdest, most gifted and consequential political figures of his time become embroiled in so manifestly lunatic an enterprise in the first place? And concerning the war, how did Nixon, with all his foreign policy savvy, allow himself to get trapped in the same quagmire he had watched disastrously engulf his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson? Intrigued by these questions, acclaimed novelist and historian and Peabody Award-winning Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen takes a deep dive into the vast recorded archives at the Nixon Library and elsewhere, and emerges with an answer he wasn’t expecting: While Watergate was the proximate cause of Nixon’s spectacular fall, it was the Vietnam War, beginning four years before the break-in, that led inexorably to it, and in short order from there to the destruction of his presidency and legacy.

These questions are the central concerns of Nixon at War. How Vietnam Led to Watergate, an hour-long audio documentary distilled from the seven-part podcast that debuted this past summer, to considerable critical acclaim. In this stand-alone radio hour, as in the podcast, Andersen rivetingly peels back the onion and emerges with a new and deeper understanding of both the man and the war, and of the profound  linkage between them.  “I thought I knew the story of Richard Nixon’s downfall pretty well,” Andersen says.  "Watergate burglary, criminal cover-up, investigation, resignation, the end. But now, after digging deep into this history for the podcast, I’ve come to a new and different understanding of Watergate. How it didn’t 'just happen,' in isolation, but grew directly out of the Vietnam War.”