The White House Plumbers: The Seven Weeks That Led to Watergate and Doomed Nixon’s Presidency, by Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh and Matthew Krogh

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh, Matthew Krogh, MacMillan Audio, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

As an avid history buff, I was eager to get my hands on this book about the White House Plumbers. While I have read a great deal about Watergate, never have I taken the time to explore anything written by those men who were involved in the break-ins that would one day bring down a sitting US president. Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh and his son, Matthew, tell a great story in a handful of chapters, explaining how Nixon became paranoid about national security, which snowballed into worry about the Democratic Party leading up to the 1972 general election.

It was the summer of 1971 when Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh found himself sitting in a top-secret meeting within the White House. While Krogh expected to be talking about some part of the Vietnam War, things soon took a turn. President Nixon was highly worried about the leaking of the Pentagon Papers, a covert history of the war in Vietnam. Krogh was handed a file and tasked with heading up the Special Investigations Union—SIU—nicknamed ‘The Plumbers’. Their job would be to find the leak and plug it once and for all. This began a series of events that Bug Krogh would never forget.

Fuelled by a dedication to his country and president, Krogh blindly followed the direction of those above him as he sought to find proof of the security leak. The primary goal was to sully the name of Daniel Ellsberg, presumed to be the core of the leak and a potential Soviet spy. Working to do whatever was asked of him, even when it was highly illegal, Krogh began by organising a break in at the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, in hopes of finding damning evidence. These steps would one day bring down Nixon’s presidency and leave an indelible mark on the country for decades.

After committing this crime, Krogh left the SIU and chose to work within the Administration, lying when called upon to testify during the Watergate hearings. When the truth about his involvement surfaced, Krogh pled guilty to his actions shedding some unique light on what happened during those late night meetings and just who gave the orders, as well as who knew what was happening at any one time. His frankness and eagerness to tell all is both intriguing and resonates just how corrupt the Nixon inner circle turned out to be.

Exploring his attempts to put his life back together after time in prison, Bud Krogh explains his meetings with Nixon in 1974-75, as well as trying to regain his ability to practice law. While it was a superficial exploration, the reader can take something away they likely did not know.

Having now died, Bud Krogh’s story went with him to the grave, but this written account helps shed some light on the actors long deemed guilty, even if they deflected any responsibility at the time. While short and somewhat crafted as a primer, it was a refreshing look at Watergate, the role of paranoia in the early 1970s, and how Richard Nixon’s intoxication with power proved to be his downfall.

While this was not a stunning publication, full of revelations and finger-pointing towards new and mysterious actions in the Waterhouse debacle, it was still worth my time. Bud Krogh provides some blunt admissions and interesting insider views from 1971 and 1972, particularly related to illegal break-ins that Nixon could use for his own power games. Using short chapters and a clear narrative, Krogh presents eye-opening tales of events, naming names and eagerly explaining just what happened. His views, while surely tainted from years passing between the events and this publication, prove forthright and well worth the reader’s time. Surely a way to ‘ease one’s conscience’ before death, Bud Krogh was able to leave this world with a clean slate and likely allowed Matthew to see what happened when the younger Krogh was just a child. Short and to the point, the read was swift and a decent piece of writing, but lacked the depth and intensity I had hoped I would find with a piece of this nature.

Kudos, Messrs. Krogh, for this piece. While little was shocking, the entertainment value that emerged while reading and piecing things together proved well worth my time.