Arguably the greatest political scandal of 20th-century America, the Watergate affair rocked an already divided nation to its core, severely challenged cherished notions about democracy and further eroded public trust in political leaders. The 1972 break-in at Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel - by five men acting under the direction of a Republican president's closest aides - created a constitutional crisis second only to the Civil War and ultimately toppled the Nixon presidency. The scandal has been extensively dissected and vigorously debated. Keith Olson, however, offers a "layman's guide to Watergate" - a concise history that highlights key actors, events and implications in the drama. The volume is designed especially for a new generation of readers who know of Watergate only by name, and for teachers looking for a straightforward summary for the classroom. Olson recaps the events and attitudes that precipitated the break-in itself and analyses the unmasking of the cover-up, from both the president's and the public's perspective, showing how the scepticism of politicians and media alike gradually intensified into a full-blown challenge to Nixon's actions and explanations. Olson documents the key role played by Republicans in the unmasking, aiming to put to rest charges that the "liberal establishment" drove Nixon from the White House. He also chronicles the snowballing public outcry for the president's removal. In a final chapter, Olson explores the Cold War contexts that encouraged an American president to convince himself that the pursuit of "national security" trumped even the Constitution.