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June 19, 1976 - Image 7

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1976-06-19

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aturdoy, June 19, 1976

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page $even

Woodstein' dissects
Nixon's final days

THE FINAL DAYS by Bob Wood-
ward and Carl Bernstein. New York:
Simon and Schuster, 476 pages, $11.95.
By GORDON ATCHESON '
1UUCH OF THE thunder of The Final
Days has unfortunately been stolen
by a shapely blond who claims she has
slept with half the U.S. Congress-or
something like that.
Billed as a sex scandal, Elizabeth
Ray's carnal exploits with Rep. Wayne
Hayes (D-Ohio) have been strewn across
the front pages conveniently timed to
coincide with the release of her own
book. The scandal is not so much that
Hayts enjoyed Ray's pleasures several
times a week, but that he kept her on
the congressional payroll at $14,000 a
year just for those services.
That's chicken feed compared to the
transgressions of the Nixon administra-
tion. Very titilating chicken feed, but
chicken feed nonetheless.
AND IT HAS diverted attention from
an excruciatingly penetrating view of
Richard Nixon as he squirmed to free
himself from his scandals. The Final
Days deserves to be looked at, read,
and talked about because it is essential
in understanding Nixon's behavior. But
the public forum has been filled with
questions of "did she or didn't she?"
And that's not a reference to whether
Ray is a natural blond or not.
It could be argued that The Final
Days got plenty of discussion, what with
Newsweek excerpts and the. subsequent
hoopla. That certainly stimulated sales
-yet may have done the book a great
disservice in the long run.
The Newsweek articles made the book
seem catty and its authors, Washington
Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl
Bernstein, the biggest gossip mongers
this side of Rona Barrett. All of which
is too bad, because The Final Days is
not gossipy-it's a detailed account of
the convulsions and contortions of the
Nixon administration and the Nixon
family, as the nation moved closer and

closer to impeachment or resignation in
the summer of 1974.
Woodward and Bernstein put together
a complete view of those last few weeks
before the president stepped down, as
seen by the immediate White House
staff. But the media-as it all too often
does-jumped on the most sensational
material and ripped it out of context.
OR EXAMPLE, the m e d i a made
much of the fact that the book re-
counted Pat Nixon's drinking problem
which developed in the months before
her husband left office. What Wood-
ward and Bernstein said was Ms. Nixon
had begun taking a nip or two in the
afternoon - because this was out of
character for her, she had been trying
to do it secretly.
They also said it in one sentence. One
sentence in a 476 page book. That cer-
tainly can't be considered sensational-
istic. And Woodward and Bernstein
should have printed it, since that formed
part of the tableau of action in the White

House.
The same can be said of the vecton
Woodward and Bernstein pot togtner
a complete view of those last few wczks
in which Woodward and Bernstein de-
scribe a meeting between Nixon and
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, dur-
ing which the president collapses in
tears after praying. Certainly such be-
havior is not surprising considering the
strain on Nixon as he saw his carefully
constructed world crumbling before him.
The authors present the incident in the
same low key style which they use to
describe the much more mundane goings
011.
Part of the brilliance of The Final
Days is that crisp, taut style. The sen-
tences are simple and diract-free of
convolutions and excess words. They
move quickly, and in doing so heighten
the tensions.
WOODWARD AND Bernstein a v o i d
editorial commentary and resist the
effort to interpret what unfolds. They
report it the way it was told to them by
their sources.
But many of the book's critics attacked
their use of unnamed sources and un-
attributed information, essentially a red
herring raised by those who didn't like
what was in The Final Days. The pre-
mise of the criticism seems to be that
since Woodward and Bernstein are re-
porters by trade, they should use the
techniques and constraints of their craft
in writing a full length book.
That notion is patently absurd. Should
James Dickey, a poet, have been forced
to use nothing but rhymed couplets in
his novel Deliverance?
Woodward and Bernstein talked to
some 390 people in researching The Final
Days. All spoke to them on "back-
ground" - journalistic jargon meaning
the name of the sources could not be
used. The authors claim at least two
sources for each item used in the book.
See DICK, Page 10
Gordon Atcheson is a former Daily
co-editor in chief.

ery untenable position - and we don't
it at all. But to the American people,
don't even know there's been a war
tg on, it looks like there's been a big
akthrough. 'Kissinger's going to bring
ce to Rhodesia.' But really, it will only
ig more problems.
'Lately, too, I've been getting the feel-
that Dr. Kissinger might be trying to
us up for another civil war like An-
- the way he's getting all out be-
one faction (ZAPU) and setting it
inst another. Maybe that's really what
United States wants - to get the
cats fighting each other."
Shat do you think about Ronald Rea-
's promise to send troops to keep peace
odesia if he's elected?
AUGIIING) WELL, in terms of the
American political situation, it made
feel pretty good, because a lot of peo-
suddenly realized what kind of per-
Reagan is. People who had never heard
Rhodesia see saying, 'What? Send
Ps to Rhodesia? What for?' So it prob-
helped Ford a little bit.
But it shows you something - that
are certain circles in your country
it Britain who encourage Smith. Those
le nay keep the war going until it
n annihilation of the settler commu-
in that sense Reagan's remarks were
unfortnate"
ZANU ultimately wins, what kind of
nment do you plan to set up?
ELL, IF IT'S A ZANU government,
we're quite clear about what we
t We want the closest thing that you
get to a mass democracy. That's dif-
t, Of course. We're aware that not
Y nations have come anywhere close.
But, you see, the war has given us
al feeling for the people. Ten years
We were elitists, all of us from the
we'd use the masses out in the vil-
S once in a while. You know; you call
eeting, and they come and they cheer,
then you get in your cars and drive
See MGABE, Page 10
/ie Norton is a Daily copy-editor.

'HEAT AND DUST':
'Vignettes 4
HEAT & DUST. By Ruth Prawer
Jhabvala, N.Y. Harper & Row, 1976.
$7.95.
By RAVI SARATHY
ENGLISHMEN CAME to colonial In-
dia to govern with firmness and im-
pose order on an ancient, somnolent,
chaotic culture. This massive force of
civil servants would have nothing to do
with indigents after office hours; re-
treating behind the lines to the cool
comfort of bungalows, servants and
mannered western society. Both Indians
r and civil servants took care not to over-
step established bounds. Though invar-
iably some did - and so called down
the wrath of the British community.
The time is 1923 and Gandhi is only
a distant noise as the story about Doug-
las Rivers, an English civil servant and
his wife unfolds. The only Indian to en-
ter their social circle is a petty prince,
the local Newab. The English have a
sneaking regard for this prince; para-
site though he is, he has a strong hawk,
like face and rides horses well He is an
..-: _... .....r.. ....ist:

of a decaying palace'

aristocrat and thus one of their class
if not one of their race. Naturally Doug-
las's pretty wife Olivia is mesermer-
ized by him and there is a scandal.
The British community regards the
whole mess as an unseemly display of
an excess of feeling for the country, the
culture. As one character says, "Like
good parents (the British) all loved In-
dia whatever mischief she might be up
to . . ." but this love had to be re-
strained, else, horror, one would go na-
tive.
IRONICALLY ENOUGH there is no real
passion between the Newab and
Olivia. She loves her husband Douglas,
but he has not fathered her a child; the
Newab is overwhelming and thus Olivia
accedes to an instinct. Perhaps the lack
of any deeper emotion between the char-
acters produces a similar effect in the
reader.
I remember reading Jean Rhys once,
a story about a drunken Englishwoman
in Paris waxing in personal misery -
who cares? I felt the same way concern-

ing Jhabvala's attempt to give a fiction-
alized account of India in 1923. There is
not a hint in the story of the ferment,
of the salt marches, of the growing revo-
lutionary fervor, that could have lent
more than just a tinge of excitement to
Olivia's experience.
It is not until the book jumps two
generations to arrive at the present,
that the reader begins to feel the pulse-
beat of modern day India. The reader
abruptly travels out of the fantasy-like
past, as Douglas's nameless grand-
daughter (from a second marriage) vis-
its the now independent nation to find
out more about the wayward Olivia.
The studied symmetry of story that
follows may be elegant, but it seems
strained at times. Both women take on
Indian lovers and get pregnant; they
are seduced at. the same spot and the
same jokes are made. And they both
See HEAT, Page 10
Ravi Sarathy is a native of India and
a recent University graduate.

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