Friday, January 4, 2013

Historical Fiction Challenge 2013-2015

Setelah tahun lalu (2012) aku mengikuti challenge yang di-host oleh Maria ini—menggebu-gebu di awal tapi mendadak bak balon, mengempis, di akhir :D—tahun ini aku mencoba ikut lagi challenge yang sama, dengan sedikit perubahan. Challenge ini dirancang untuk berlangsung selama 3 tahun; dan meski aku masih belum bisa membayangkan arah bacaanku di tahun-tahun mendatang, paling tidak masih ada beberapa historical fiction yang rencananya aku selesaikan tahun ini (limpahan dari tahun lalu yang gagal sih…). Maka aku memberanikan diri ikut di challenge ini lagi. Entah dengan tahun depan, mari kita khawatirkan tahun depan saja… :P

Aku mengambil level:

Collector : 5 – 10 book/year

Meski aku masih tak mengerti mengapa levelnya dibuat per tahun kalau challenge ini dirancang untuk 3 tahun? :D

Buku-buku yang akan kubaca untuk challenge ini:

Richard III – William Shakespeare
The Flames of Rome – Paul L. Maier
The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
The Dante Club – Matthew Pearl

Empress – San Sha
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
True History of the Kelly Gang - Peter Carey
World Without End - Ken Follett

All The President’s Men: Third Level Inquiry

This post serves as well as my final review for this book. All The President’s Men is a history of political journalism which covered the fall of Richard M. Nixon in one of the most humiliating political scandals in White House. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were two reporters in Washington Post, they were appointed to cover a case of breaking-in and tapping at the Democratic headquarter in Watergate by five people. This soon turned out as extraordinary news, since it involved several men from President Nixon’s Committee for Re-election of The President (CRP) team. Interviews being made, and slowly but surely, Bernstein and Woodward unveiled organized illegal intelligence activities with the aim to win Nixon as a President. Not only both reporters, but Washington Post as a whole institution must suffer a lot in its fight to reveal the truth, but—as we all know—by the help of inside sources and honorable intentions of its crews, Washington Post had helped people of America to finally force its President to resign.

From the series of news published in Washington Post, Bernstein and Woodward then arranged them into this chronologically crafted history book. It becomes sort of political detective story, but the fact that this is a true story, made this book stands out from any other similar themed books. Four stars for All The President’s Men! And following the first and second level of inquiries for my The Well-Educated Mind Project, this is my analysis for the third level inquiry.

Dustin Hoffman & Robert Redford in the movie adaptation

Rhetoric-Stage Reading

What is the purpose of this history?

The main purpose is to show how people of America were proud of and respected honesty and honor in their blood; that when the sacred of White House was corrupted, there are brave people who sacrificed their career—and often their lives too—to reveal the truth. From the fall, this history also teaches us about how the conspiracy had been built.

What does it mean to be human?

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward showed us that we as human have the responsibility to correct the error in all aspects of life; and we must do it with the right and honest ways, with persistence and commitment.

Why do things go wrong?

Greediness and arrogance—I think—that had corrupted the White House at that time. Nixon was in his second period of presidential, he and his men must have thought that because they had put every other institutions—FBI, CIA, Ministry of Justice—under their control, their illegal activities won’t be revealed. Hunt, one of the President’s men, even blackmailed the President because he had some evidence about Watergate. The moral corruption of President and his men had been in the lowest level when they knew they would surely win.

What place does free will have?

In their fight to reveal the truth, both reporters and the Washington Post must face a lot of trials. Bernstein and Woodward were summoned to the court because they have tried to interview the jury. White House had openly attacked Washington Post’s reputation, and the newspaper’s stock had been crashed down to 50% in the stock market. At one time the two reporters were warned that their office and houses might have been tapped, and their lives were in danger. However—from the reporters, the senior redactors, to the owner—Washington Post had persistently kept their intention to supply honest investigations to its readers and to help the nation to know the whole truth; they fought to the end.

What is the end of this history?

When Bernstein and Woodward started their coverage for Watergate case, I believe they never thought where this would have ended; a breaking-in to Watergate was not unusual anyway. However, when they found that a huge amount of fund and someone from the closest circle of CRP were involved, they knew that this would be a delicate case. From then on they always looked at the higher level to see who was actually in control. Both reporters ended this history book when House of Representatives finally opened investigation to impeach President Nixon, and the law process began. Six months after this book first published, Richard M. Nixon resigned from his office after the Republican announced that they had been ready to the verdict against Nixon.

If at first the President and his men still arrogantly challenged their ‘enemies’—Washington Post was their biggest target—at the end President’s men fought each others, raced to reveal evidences, to get a chance to put the blame on the others. Nixon was under his men’s control and forced to sacrifice one of his assistants, and at the end his closest friends fell with him too. In a way Washington Post helped America to clean up their corrupt government by their journalism. The end of this history opened a new hope of a better presidential (Nixon was succeeded by Gerald Ford).


*I read translated version in Bahasa Indonesia by Penerbit Serambi*

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

All The President’s Men: First and Second Level Inquiry

These are the first and second level inquiries for completing tasks of my The Well-Educated Mind Self-Project. The third one would be posted separately.

Grammar-Stage Reading

Who is this story about? What challenge did they face?

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward are two Washington Post’s reporters who covered news of Watergate scandal that forced President Richard M. Nixon to resign his office. They wanted to reveal the truth—who, why, how—behind the breaking-in and tapping of the Democratic headquarter.

Who or what causes this challenge?

Watergate seemed to be controlled by President Nixon’s Committee for Re-election of The President (CRP) team. Of course, White House denied and covered up any inquiries from reporters that had any chance to put them in dangerous position.

What happened to the two reporters?

Confronted with the absolute power of high level executives, the two reporters had bravely submitted direct inquiries to powerful people, sometimes attacking them through their news—while kept maintaining the newspaper’s integrity by never reporting something they were not 100% sure of the accuracy —in order to reveal the truth.

Logic-State Reading

Look for the reporters major assertions

Since this story was previously written as series of reports in newspaper, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward published this book also as a chronological series of reports; and therefore I could not find the explicit major assertions within the history. However, I think the reporters wanted to highlight that it is the nation’s and people’s responsible to seek the truth about their government, even if it might have been conducted by the highest levels of authorities. We must always look at and thoroughly work on all possibilities and chances; that nothing is impossible.

What questions are the reporters asking?

They knew that Watergate had something to do with the high levels in White House; the question was how far the moral corruption had infected White House. Did the President involve in this, did he know about it, or was it merely his men’s action?

What sources do the reporters use to answer them?

They dug every news—new and old ones, every comment from interviews with so many people--but they had also a valuable secret source that seemed to know everything and involved in the case. This source—nicknamed Deep Throat—has guided the reporters to find the truth, without revealing his own identity. They also consulted their lawyer for legal aspects of interviewing, quoting comments and reporting it for the newspaper.

Does the evidence support the connection between questions and answers?

In their reports, the two reporters always followed journalism ethics by cross-examining and reconfirming news with other sources, and provided the subject chances to deny or confirm the news. So, I think they always used a respectable evidence to answer their questions.


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