The White House Plumbers by Egil and Matthew Krogh – Review
By Karl Honsey
As someone who has taken an interest in all things Watergate for many years now, this book, by a man who was involved in some of the decisions that ultimately led to President Richard Nixon being forced to resign, was always going to interest me. Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh worked in the Nixon administration in the early 1970s, serving a short prison sentence for his role and, as such, his tale of redemption is well worth a read. Even more than that, it’ll soon be worth a watch, as a five-part HBO series with a stellar cast will premiere in the spring. This isn’t so much the story of Watergate itself, but very much about events leading up to it, and Krogh’s subsequent life.
This book was started in 2006 with the original title of ‘Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices and Life Lessons’, before being finished off by Krogh’s son Matthew in the time since Egil’s death in 2020. And that original title sums up perfectly what this book is about, with Krogh accepting that he made mistakes as a younger and more impressionable man, hoping to impress some seriously senior figures. Those decisions were part of a remarkable chain of events that ultimately led up the chain of command until Nixon couldn’t plead his innocence any longer. While Nixon never really came fully clean about what he knew and when, and never achieved full redemption because of that, Krogh very much has, getting his life and his legal career back on track through making better decisions, beginning with his time in prison.
Krogh mentions integrity many times in this book, and that cuts to the heart of the affair. He wanted to be able to look himself in the mirror and have integrity back in his life. And while this book is clearly more likely to pique the interest of those with knowledge of Watergate and US politics in particular, those life lessons and attitude can be used by all of us to become better people and to atone for our mistakes. Hopefully that will translate into the forthcoming series and it remains faithful to the book, as the story is so remarkable that it needs no embellishment or exaggeration. One of the most fascinating aspects of Watergate is that it was all so unnecessary and started in a relatively minor fashion, especially when compared to some of the crimes and misdemeanours that politicians of today get away with.
Krogh comes across as a very genuine man, one who doesn’t try to justify what he did, but someone who wanted to make a difference. And his story should do just that to anyone who reads it.
‘The White House Plumbers – The Seven Weeks That Led to Watergate and Doomed Nixon’s Presidency’ by Egil and Matthew Krogh is published by Swift Press