Certainly you get in The Secret Man the cloak-and-dagger details you'd expect--and are likely already familiar with from both the book and the superb movie of All the President's Men: the late-night garage meetings, the red flag in the flower pot, the whispered warning that lives were in danger. Woodward retells the still-riveting story of his and Bernstein's unearthing of the scandal with efficiency and with the last puzzle piece in place. And he is able both to explain some of Felt's motivations, as an FBI loyalist disgusted by Nixon staffers trying to run roughshod over his agency, and to trace some of his remarkable bureaucratic tactics, including commissioning an FBI leak inquiry and deflecting it away from himself. Most fascinatingly, he gives a warts-and-all account of his shameless youthful cultivation of Felt, beginning with their first encounter when Woodward was a bored Navy lieutenant on the make, just three years before being assigned to cover the arraignment of five men in business suits arrested in the offices of the Democratic National Committee. But in a crucial way this doesn't seem to be the book that Woodward had wanted to write, for Felt remains a mystery. A shadowy father figure during the Watergate period, Felt soon distanced himself from Woodward after running into legal trouble of his own, and they fell out of touch in the intervening years. When Woodward finally reestablished contact in 2000, Felt had lost most of his memory, and any understanding with his former source, with whom he was so closely tied in both his private and public lives, remained poignantly but frustratingly unreachable. --Tom Nissley
From Publishers Weekly
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