It was a time, much like today, when Americans feared for the future of their democracy, and women stood up for equal treatment. At the crossroads of the Watergate scandal and the women’s movement was a young lawyer named Jill Wine Volner (as she was then known), barely thirty years old and the only woman on the team that prosecuted the highest-ranking White House officials. Called “the mini-skirted lawyer” by the press, she fought to receive the respect accorded her male counterparts―and prevailed.
In The Watergate Girl, Jill Wine-Banks opens a window on this troubled time in American history. It is impossible to read about the crimes of Richard Nixon and the people around him without drawing parallels to today’s headlines. The book is also the story of a young woman who sought to make her professional mark while trapped in a failing marriage, buffeted by sexist preconceptions, and harboring secrets of her own. Her house was burgled, her phones were tapped, and even her office garbage was rifled through.
At once a cautionary tale and an inspiration for those who believe in the power of justice and the rule of law, The Watergate Girl is a revelation about our country, our politics, and who we are as a society.
My memories of Watergate are quite vivid, as I experienced them in adulthood. I was a thirty-year-old social worker with a husband and three children as the scandal began playing out. I was opposed to many of the actions taken by then-President Nixon, but despite these feelings, I was appalled by how events unfolded during those Watergate years. The author of The Watergate Girl was part of the prosecution team that tried the Watergate burglars and those that were part of the cover-up, including Nixon himself.
In view of recent political scandals and the Impeachment of President Trump, I completely agree with the author who has drawn parallels between then and now, but concludes with the assessment that our current situation presents even greater dangers. She writes:
“Today we are up against a deeper existential threat to democracy than we faced during Watergate, a peril exacerbated by a more complicated political, social, and cultural landscape than existed in the 1970s. The country is more divided now, and today’s media is a minefield of fake news and shrill voices from a multiplicity of sources.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed account of the Watergate investigation and hearings, and also liked reading about the author herself, then and now. A brilliant 5 star read. #2020ReadNonFic