Sign of the Times

Revelations detailed in Family of Secrets made their way to the front page of Sunday’s New York Times. In the article “John Dean’s Role at Issue in Nixon Tapes Feud,” Patricia Cohen covers the academic scandal surrounding Stanley Kutler’s omissions and elisions in his book-length compendium of the Nixon tapes, Abuse of Power.

Cohen writes:

[L]ongtime critics of his transcripts say Mr. Kutler deliberately edited the tapes in ways that painted a more benign portrait of a central figure in the drama, the conspirator-turned-star-witness, John W. Dean III, the White House counsel who told Nixon that Watergate had become a “cancer” on his presidency.

Behind the accusations are rival visions of Mr. Dean, who is seen by some as a flawed but ultimately courageous man reluctantly sucked into the scandal, and by others as a primary architect of the cover-up who saved himself by deflecting guilt.

Russ Baker is mentioned in the article as a prominent critic of Kutler, and chapters 10 and 11 of Family of Secrets provide the fullest accounting to date of Dean’s role in ousting Nixon, and of the discrepancies between the Nixon tapes and Kutler’s account of these specific conversations.

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