THIS IS THE BOOK THATCHANGED AMERICABeginning with the story of a simple burglary at Democratic headquarters and then continuing with headline after headline, Bernstein and Woodward kept the tale of conspiracy and the trail of dirty tricks coming -- delivering the stunning revelations and pieces in the Watergate puzzle that brought about Nixon's scandalous downfall. Their explosive reports won a Pulitzer Prize forThe Washington Postand toppled the President.THESE ARE THE AUTHORS WHO INTRODUCED US TO THE WORDS "DEEP THROAT."
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein present the pivotal moment when our President, the leader of the free world, became a shifty, scheming thug instead of a statesman with his country's best interest at heart.
Told from the perspective of the writers in a third person way, the events that kick off with the Watergate break-in and end with the Executive Branch of the United States government in shambles becomes a thrilling and potent detective story. These two put themselves on the line by searching out the truth, no matter how much the President's men tried to make them look foolish and like full-blown McGovern puppets solely trying to make the President look bad because he was a Republican. There were threats, secrets, cover-ups, and more than a few tricks.
This book. This is the one. If you want some solid reporting about political intrigue, read this book.
It was slow going, reading about painstaking shoe-leather reporting of this now-historic time. I wonder if ferreting out the story would have been easier in the Internet age. Maybe not, since the players would not have broadcast their activities on the Web.
I lived through the Watergate era. My mother yelled "Bitch! Bastard! Schmuck!" every night at the TV at the sight of Nixon's face. I was busy being a student and didn't pay close attention to what was going on.
I don't know if I'm jaded by subsequent events or just clueless, but what these guys did doesn't seem all that bad. Political espionage, dirty tricks, secret taping, and then covering it up? Don't all politicians do that?
What went on does seem worse than lying about sex with an intern.
And, reading this book will remind you (or, if you are young enough, will let you know for the first time) how pivotal Watergate was to history and the presidency. No one really suspected how far it went. Yet it all came out. This is not as engrossing as good fiction. Nor should it be. If it were, it would be unbelievable. Instead, the straightforward approach, the avoidance of hyperbole, allows the reader to recognize that this is the real world, and this was a real event. And it is done in a balanced way – one that shows the role of each reporter, and the role of other journalists. The handling of this reporting helps you understand why, even today, Woodward gets information that no one else does.
Beyond the history, there are a lot of lessons to be learned. First, this is the foundation for someone’s book on leadership. For all his faults, it is evident here that Nixon was great leader (as in, one who was great a leading, not as in one who was great in the way they led.) It is evident that people went beyond where they might, just because of him. Second, this should be required reading for anyone who does fraud investigation (not just investigative journalism.) This provides perfect examples of the investigation approaches – planning the interviews, not ignoring the little things, never go beyond what you know is right (which Woodward and Bernstein did – and paid a price).
And, for a better experience, read this with some of the other volumes that came out at that time – for example, The Brethren by Woodward (about the Supreme Court when all this was going on), Final Days by Woodward and Bernstein, and Breach of Faith by T H White.
Like some of the other reviews on this site that I have read for this book, I agree that as a source for the intrepid investigation activities of the young reporters, this is a valuable primary source. At the same time, it makes me want to read accounts of the same events by other authors. The authors here were so bold and narrow in their focus, that I don't think there was any time or inclination to talk about other interesting topics like their educational background and the style of their everyday work at the newspaper.
Of course, I realize that all of this can be found in other books. I know that Bob Woodward has continued to write since the time of this book. Probably Carl Bernstein too. So I'll finish The Final Days, and then bridge into whatever books from one or both of these two seem logical for the next selection.