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"The Secret Man is one of the best [of the Watergate books] at illuminating the backstage battle to bring President Nixon's team to account. . . . Eye-opening." — The Boston Globe
"The best short discussion of the distinction — between the reporter as private eye and the reporter as stenographer — that has ever been published. The chapter on the protection of sources is a passage that one hopes will be taught in schools." — The New York Times Book Review
"Long live the use of confidential news sources. . . . An inside look at the give-and-take involved in the often-dicey relationships between journalists and their sources." — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"A filling-in of many of the final blanks left in the most explosive political/journalism story ever." — Lincoln Journal Star
"A provocative, even stirring contribution." — Baltimore Sun
In february 1992, as the 20th anniversary of the Watergate break-in approached, I went to the fortress-like J. Edgar Hoover FBI headquarters building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. An imposing cement structure with large dark windows, the Hoover building sits appropriately about midway between the White House and the Capitol. It is as if Hoover, the founding director and the embodiment of the FBI from 1924 to 1972, is still present in Washington, D.C., playing off presidents against the Congress. I navigated the labyrinth of security and finally made my way to the documents room. I had come to examine some of the FBI's investigative Watergate files that had been opened to the public. Private cubicles are available in the classy, law-firm atmosphere, well lit, all done in high-quality wood paneling well above the standard government issue. The room is quiet. I was offered blue-lined paper to take notes.
The Watergate files contain hundreds of internal FBI memos, requests for action, investigative summaries, and Teletypes to headquarters from field offices which had conducted hundreds of interviews. There were the first summaries of information on the five burglars arrested in the Democrats' Watergate office building headquarters: their names, their backgrounds, their CIA connections, and their contacts with E. Howard Hunt Jr., the former CIA operative and White House consultant, and G. Gordon Liddy, the former FBI agent. The files teemed with notes, routing slips and queries bearing initials from senior Bureau officials, dates and intelligence classifications.
The outline of the Watergate cover-up was so clear in retrospect. White House counsel John W. Dean III, who later confessed to leading the illegal obstruction of justice on behalf of President Richard Nixon, "stated all requests for investigation by FBI at White House must be cleared through him," according to a summary dated six days after the June 17, 1972, break-in.
A memo on October 10, 1972, addressed The Washington Post story that Carl Bernstein and I had written that day. It was probably our most important story; it reported that the Watergate break-in was not an isolated event but "stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage" run by the White House and President Nixon's reelection committee. The two-page memo stated that the FBI had learned that Donald H. Segretti, who headed the efforts to harass Democratic presidential candidates, had been hired by Dwight L. Chapin, the president's appointments secretary, and paid by Herbert W. Kalmbach, the president's personal lawyer. Because there was no direct connection to the Watergate bugging, the memo said, the FBI had not pursued the matter.
I smiled. Here were two of the reasons the Watergate cover-up had worked at first: Dean's effectiveness in squelching further inquiry; and the seeming utter lack of imagination on the part of the FBI.
All of this was a pleasant, long, well-documented reminder of names, events and emotions as I sifted through the Bureau memos, as best I could tell almost a complete set of internal memos and investigative files. The files and memos provided a kind of intimacy with what had been four intense years of my life, as Carl Bernstein and I covered the story for The Washington Post and wrote two books about Watergate: All the President's Men, published in 1974, which was about our newspaper's investigation; and The Final Days, published in 1976, which chronicled the collapse of the Nixon presidency.
At the time of my visit I was 48 years old, but I was not there for a trip down memory lane. I was not hunting for more information in the rich history of Watergate; not looking for new avenues, leads, surprises, contradictions, unrevealed crimes or hidden meaning, although the amazements of Watergate rarely ceased.
Instead, I was really there in further pursuit of Deep Throat...
Copyright © 2005 by Bob Woodward
Posted July 6, 2006
Let me first say that I'm a huge Watergate buff, and I have been enthralled since I was a teenager with the greatest political scandal that the United States has ever known. With that said, anything that I can read, watch, or listen to about the era, I enjoy immensely and completely devour. Bob Woodward is also one of my favorite authors, and I've read most of his books, so all the above criteria accounts for the three star rating. Unfortunately, there is nothing new to offer in this book. Most of it is a rehash of material that is long familiar to students of the scandal. There was so much media attention last year when Deep Throat was unmasked in Vanity Fair that most of what Woodward details here, I have already read in newspaper accounts and coverage last spring. Woodward was beaten on his own story here which is a shame, because I think if he was able to disclose Deep Throat's identity, in a book before anyone else did, it would have been spellbinding. Instead, in today's media world the book seems unneccessary. I will always read every Woodward book that he puts out there, but there is really nothing worth discovering here.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 17, 2005
It's clear that Woodward's relationship with Mr. Felt was strained for so many years. As a working journalist, I thought Woodward played loose with his source, all but identifying him during his original reporting (mentioned FBI sources led the White House to focus on Felt as Deep Throat). That aside, this could have been a lengthy magazine article instead of a book. Still, a good read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 16, 2005
I am being generous when I give Woodward's latest money-maker a 3-star rating. My gut feeling puts it in the 2-star group! It was extremely disappointing and over hyped. Mr. Berstein added little. But hey, it made them money and that is what counts. Once Mark Felt was officially acknowledged as 'Deep Throat' in 'Vanity Fair', that put a period on the Nixon White House era. I am sure Woodward felt (no pun intended) betrayed. It was his(and Felt's)story to be told. Problem was, there wasn't much left to be told, only a name, and Vanity Fair said it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 22, 2005
Author and veteran reporter Bob Woodward ends this book by saying, 'There never is a final draft of history.' Perhaps, but his book turns the page on an era and on Deep Throat - the code name for FBI official W. Mark Felt - the pivotal secret source for the Watergate stories that helped bring down Richard Nixon's presidency. Remarkably, Woodward and his Washington Post colleagues protected their source's identity for more than 30 years. Woodward paints a compelling portrait of his almost tortured relationship with Felt, a father figure and mentor. Several times Felt came a hair's breadth from being exposed. Pained, Woodward admits that he missed his chance to uncover Felt's motivations for abetting the Post's investigative crusade. By the time Woodward tried to reconcile their troubled relationship, Felt was 87 and dementia had twisted his memory. Yet, Felt triumphed in his historic clash with Nixon. Woodward concludes, 'By surviving and enduring his hidden life...in his own way, W. Mark Felt won.' Carl Bernstein's epilogue, 'A Reporter's Assessment,' is an equally fascinating contribution. We most highly recommend this book, especially for those seeking a better understanding of the Watergate participants, whose actions will continue to ripple the waters of American politics for many years to come.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 19, 2005
Like a final wrap up episode of a television series, The Secret Man is a satisfying coda for All The President's Men & The Final Days. This book addressed many unanswered questions on a story that has come full circle. Woodward, Bernstein & Felt are true American heroes.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 19, 2005
Mark Felt is a true American hero.The next time a book about 'Profiles in Courage' is written, there should be a chapter devoted to him. He put a stop to Presidental abuse of power and corruption of the intelligence agencies that was being done by a handful of corrupt people.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 26, 2005
I read the Washington Post article by Bob Woodward that appeared shortly after reading the Vanity Fair article revealing that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. I should have stopped there and not purchased this book because it offers no insights beyond the two articles. Too bad no one has discovered a version of the Deep Throat story written by Mark Felt prior to his memory loss or that Mr Woodward did not seek an earlier reconciliation and collaboration.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 9, 2005
Posted July 13, 2005
It was an okay read. Deep Throat had already lost his memories, and that was, probably, good. That part of America is history and is where it belongs. This book didn't revel much that intellingent people knew. trying to make a good buck! nothing wrong with that. another movie?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 11, 2005
If you lived through Watergate - this is a must read. If you are too young to have known Watergate but have watched the movie - All The President's Men and are facinated that THIS REALLY happened in America - you will like this book as well. If you know nothing about Watergate - YOU NEED TO KNOW what happend and how it was such an accident that these 2 tallented young Wash. Post cub reporters uncovered the most derelict Presidency event in probably all the KNOWN history of the White House. For those of us who lived through this major political event - we are all glad now to finally have the answer about who Deep Throat was before 'we died!' My poor dad did not live to know who it was - he wanted to know so badly - but he always held out that it HAD to be someone high up in the FBI and was firmly convinced that is the only person that could have gotten away with being Deep Throat - anyone else was too much of a target - or involved in the cover up itself. Dad, you got it right! More then a great summer read - everyone should have this one on their library shelf to complete the picture of what happened in-between the pages of what we have known about for years.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.