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The Best of the Book Nook: 'The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It' by John Dean + Bonus Segment

Cover of 'Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It' by John W. Dean

Amid recent political controversies surrounding Donald Trump, Vick Mickunas thought it would be appropriate to highlight a past interview with John W. Dean, the author of 'The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It'. BONUS SEGMENT: Vick Mickunas fondly remembers cowboy poet Baxter Black.

50 years ago the Watergate break-in scandal was just beginning to roil Washington, D.C. as President Richard M. Nixon and his close aides were scrambling to distance themselves from the men who were apprehended during a botched break-in at Democratic National Headquarters within the Watergate complex. This wasn't the first time these men had broken in. They had gone there once before to plant listening devices on the telephones. One of the bugs had stopped working and they had gone back in to fix it when a security guard noticed that someone had tampered with an entryway so that a door would not latch. That's when they got caught.

Apparently Nixon knew nothing in advance about this tomfoolery being executed on his behalf by what became known as the "Watergate plumbers" but when he found out about it he went straight into cover up mode. One of the men who he charged with orchestrating this deceit was his White House counsel, a man named John Dean. As the scandal became known and Congress began investigating it was John Dean who finally decided he wasn't going to participate any longer in their charade. Dean's testimony was crucial. If he had not chosen to testify and tell the truth Nixon might have gotten away with it.

John Dean's courage changed history and he went to prison for his role in the cover up. Almost five decades later Dean has been a staple on the talk shows after a former aide to Mark Meadows, Donald Trump's last Chief of Staff, decided to provide disturbing public testimony before the January 6 Commission that is investigating the tragic, frightening events that took place in Washington on January 6, 2020. Donald Trump has stated that he barely knew this brave woman, Cassidy Hutchinson. Ironically, before Nixon leaned on Dean to assist with the Watergate cover up he had hardly known John Dean.

With all this in mind I dusted off one of the two interviews I did with John Dean when we talked about his book The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It. Dean had gone through and listened to all of the notorious secret tapes that Nixon recorded in the White House. Nobody else had ever bothered to do that. This book was the result.

*Book Nook Bonus Segment: Remembering Baxter Black*

Cover of 'Horseshoes, Cowsocks and Duckfeet' by Baxter Black

The cowboy poet Baxter Black was a familiar voice on National Public Radio for many years. He visited the Book Nook once. That was about 20 years ago. Bax came strolling in that day wearing his enormous cowboy hat and a handlebar mustache that drooped further than just about any other. The man was funny, with a dry humor that amused and edified. Baxter Black died recently. Here's a special segment in his memory.

Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.