The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat

Overview

The mysterious source who helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break open the Watergate scandal in 1972 remained hidden for thirty-three years. In The Secret Man, Woodward tells the story of his long, complex relationship with W. Mark Felt, the enigmatic former No. 2 man in the FBI who helped end the presidency of Richard Nixon. The Secret Man brings to a close one of the last chapters of Watergate.

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The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat

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Overview

The mysterious source who helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break open the Watergate scandal in 1972 remained hidden for thirty-three years. In The Secret Man, Woodward tells the story of his long, complex relationship with W. Mark Felt, the enigmatic former No. 2 man in the FBI who helped end the presidency of Richard Nixon. The Secret Man brings to a close one of the last chapters of Watergate.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
At long last, the secret inside story of Watergate and Deep Throat is revealed -- by the famed Washington Post duo of Woodward and Bernstein, who broke the story that brought down a president.
From the Publisher
"Provocative. . . . Reaffirms the vital role that confidential sources play in keeping the public informed." — The New York Times

"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

Christopher Hitchens
… the penultimate chapter, in which [Woodward] explains his adamant position on the protection of sources, is a passage that one hopes will be taught in schools.
— The New York Times
Bill Emmott
If you have promised an informant that his identity will remain a secret, how could you look yourself in the mirror if you then break that promise? The mirrors in the houses of Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and the others who kept the secret of Deep Throat for so long are safely still in regular use. As The Secret Man shows, history has been the loser from such fealty, for it has been deprived of a full, personal explanation by Mark Felt. But that was his choice. And both morality and journalism can be counted as winners.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Now that the Watergate scandal source, Deep Throat, has decided to step forward (or at least Mark Felt's family has), this audiobook serves as the final chapter of the saga Woodward and Carl Bernstein began with All the President's Men. Boyd Gaines has a tough job as reader. Retelling a tale that was so memorably and, as it turns out, accurately portrayed by Robert Redford and Hal Holbrook on film is a daunting task. But Gaines rises to the occasion with aplomb. His rendition of Woodward is authoritative yet humble and delivered with a confident crispness. His take on Felt's voice is also strong, and it is interesting to hear Felt's digression into the less complimentary mannerisms of old age. Gaines's version of the older, forgetful Felt sounds a bit like his Richard Nixon, with a pinch of John Wayne thrown in the mix. Overall, The Secret Man is a historically informative and enjoyable listening experience that also speaks to the current issue of journalism and the protection of sources. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743287166
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 5/23/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 402,407
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for forty-one years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for The Washington Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, and later for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored twelve #1 national nonfiction bestsellers. He has two daughters, Tali and Diana, and lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, writer Elsa Walsh.

Biography

Perhaps the only journalist who can claim to feature both Judy Belushi and Ronald and Nancy Reagan on his list of enemies, Washington Post editor and Watergate watchdog Bob Woodward is famously (purposefully?) a lightning rod for criticism. Woodward raises as many eyebrows for his anonymous sourcing as he summons applause for his scorched-earth approach in interviewing masses of people for every project; the extensive information he digs up is held in awe, yet greetings from the nation's book critics and journalists don't always read like love letters. Joan Didion, in the pages of The New York Review of Books called The Choice, his account of the 1996 presidential campaign, "political pornography."

The New Republic opened its review of The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House by pleading with readers not to buy the book. Frank Rich, the opinion columnist for The New York Times, said that Woodward's book Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate should have instead been entitled All the Presidents Stink, since none of the nation's post-Watergate presidents seemed able to withstand the author's tut-tutting over minor peccadilloes.

For the record, Judy Belushi objected to what she called Woodward's overly negative portrait of husband John's drug use and lifestyle excesses in the 1984 biography Wired, and the Reagans didn't like what he had to say about deceased CIA Director William Casey in Veil.

Still, Woodward delivers the goods.

On the job for nine months as a night cops reporter for The Washington Post in 1972, Woodward lucked into the petty crime of the century: the break-in at Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate complex. Woodward and reporter Carl Bernstein's investigation reached the highest levels of the Nixon White House, and has become a template for investigative journalism ever since. Thousands of students have poured out of journalism schools in the ensuing years -- for better or worse -- sniffing the winds for their own private Watergate.

Woodward himself hasn't found it, but he has maintained a reputation as the investigator within American journalism, often winning unparalleled access to his subjects and developing a reputation for almost manic multiple-fact-checking of information. After turning the Watergate story into the book and film All the President's Men, Woodward and Bernstein -- or "Woodstein," as they became known in the Post's newsroom -- collaborated on a second book, The Final Days, a look at the end of the Nixon presidency. In 1979, Woodward cast his glance around Washington and found The Brethren, an inside look at the inner workings of the Supreme Court, this time with co-author Scott Armstrong.

Aside from the Belushi biography, Woodward has stuck to the political. He went inside the Clinton White House with The Agenda, inside the CIA with Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987 (raising questions about his mysterious hospital interview with a groggy Bill Casey) and inside the 1996 Clinton-Dole duel for the presidency in The Choice.

Woodward is the only author to publish four books on a sitting president during the president's time in office. He spent more time than any other journalist or author interviewing President Bush on the record -- a total of nearly 11 hours in six separate sessions from 2001 to 2008.

His four books on President George W. Bush are Bush at War (2002), about the response to 9/11 and the initial invasion of Afghanistan; Plan of Attack (2004), on how and why Bush decided to invade Iraq; State of Denial (2006), about Bush's refusal to acknowledge for nearly three years that the Iraq war was not going well as violence and instability reached staggering levels; and The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 (2008), about the deep divisions and misunderstandings on war strategy between the civilians and the military as the president finally decided to add 30,000 troops in a surge.

In every case, Woodward digs deep. And it all started when he was a teenager, working one summer as a janitor in his father's law office in Wheaton, Ill. He made his way through the papers in his father's desk, his father's partner's desk and the files in the attic.

"I looked up all my classmates and their families, and there were IRS audits or divorces or grand juries that did not lead to indictment," he told U.S. News and World Report in 2002. "It was a cold shower to see that the disposed files contained the secret lives of many of the people in this perfect town and showed they weren't perfect."

Good To Know

Richard Nixon said his wife, Pat, had a stroke while reading the Woodward and Bernstein book Final Days.

Woodward once briefly dated reporter Leslie Stahl, who also covered the Watergate story, even to the point of following John Dean into a men's room to continue questioning him.

He voted for Richard Nixon.
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    1. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 26, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      Geneva, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1965

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

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

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