- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 2, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743287169
- ISBN-13: 978-0743287166
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 107 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat Paperback – June 2, 2006
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Bob Woodward's secret man is no longer a secret, now that former FBI assistant director W. Mark Felt and his family have revealed that he was Deep Throat, Woodward's legendary anonymous source for his Watergate reporting. Soon after Felt made his identity known, Woodward, who "is prone to complete his homework before it is due or even assigned," according to the afterword by his reporting partner Carl Bernstein, himself revealed that he had been working on a manuscript in preparation for that moment, one that would after 30 years tell the inside story of their mysterious, and history-changing, relationship.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Rushed into print after former FBI second-in-command W. Mark Felt was unmasked as Watergate's enigmatic arch-informant, this memoir reminds us that the scandal's lasting impact was less on politics than on journalism. Woodward recounts his cultivation of the avuncular Felt as mentor and source during his days as a cub reporter, the cloak-and-dagger parking garage meetings where Felt leaked conclusions from the FBI's Watergate investigation, Felt's ambivalence about his actions and the chilling of their post-Watergate relationship. The narrative drags in later years as the author showily wrestles with the ethics of revealing his source, even after a senile Felt begins blurting out the secret and his family pesters Woodward to confirm his identity. Woodward portrays Felt as a conflicted man with situational principles (he was convicted of authorizing the FBI's own Watergate-style illegal break-ins), motivated possibly by his resentment of White House pressure on the FBI for a cover-up, possibly by pique at being passed over for FBI chief. Unfortunately, Felt doesn't remember Watergate, so his reasons remain a mystery; Woodward's disappointment at the drying up of his oracle is palpable. What's clear is that Deep Throat laid the template for Woodward's career; his later reporting on cloistered institutions-the Supreme Court, the CIA, the Fed, various administrations-relied on highly-place, often unnamed insiders to unveil their secrets. It gave his reporting its omniscient tone, but, critics complain, drained it of perspective and made it a captive of his sources and their agendas. Woodward doesn't probe these issues very deeply, but he does open a window on the fraught relationships at the heart of journalism.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The book is essentially a retelling of "All the President's Men" (and perhaps "The Final Days", which I have not yet read) but with more direct focus on Woodward, Mark Felt (now known as informant "Deep Throat"), and their long-term relationship which began even before the Watergate scandal. It gives a much deeper insight into the character and motivation of Felt, the frustration and interference he encountered from the Nixon administration (beginning with the ITT/Dita Beard investigation, which Woodward describes as "a dress rehearsal for Watergate"), and the effect that Felt's role as Deep Throat may have played in his later years.
While I very much enjoyed the authorship of Woodward, I disliked the narration by Boyd Gaines. His delivery is dry, slow and deliberate, almost monotone, which very little intonation. I often found myself inadvertantly "tuning out" for a few seconds or almost a minute, which caused me to have to rewind in order to pick up on important points. This was in stark contrast to "My Life" by Bill Clinton, whose narration I found very engaging, or Tom Wolfe's "A man in Full", narrated by David Ogden Stiers, whose vivid narration makes each word and character come alive before me.
In short, regarding "The Secret Man" - Get the text version, but pass on the audiobook (or indeed, ANY audiobook narrated by Boyd Gaines, including "State of War" by James Risen).