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Former CIA director and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wished he’d recruited Woodward into the CIA, “He has an extraordinary ability to get otherwise responsible adults to spill [their] guts to him . . . his ability to get people to talk about stuff they shouldn’t be talking about is just extraordinary and may be unique.”
Therein lays the genius of Bob Woodward – a journalistic icon who gained international attention when he and Carl Bernstein broke the deeply disturbing news of the Watergate scandal.
Watergate’s theme of secret government is a common thread throughout Woodward’s career that has spawned 19 books – all national bestsellers – 13 of them #1 – more than any other contemporary nonfiction author. His 19th book, FEAR: Trump in the White House, sold more than 1.1 million copies in its first week in September 2018 – breaking the 94-year first-week sales record of its publisher Simon & Schuster. No one else in political investigative journalism has the clout, respect, and reputation of Woodward. He has a way of getting insiders to open up in ways that reveal an intimate yet sweeping portrayal of Washington and the political infighting, how we fight wars, the price of politics, how presidents lead, the homeland security efforts, and so much more. His work is meticulous and draws on internal memos, classified documents, meeting notes and hundreds of hours of interviews with most of the key players, including the president.
As a speaker, Woodward pulls the curtain back on Washington and its leaders to captivate audiences with stories that are sometimes surprising, at times shocking, and always fascinating. He blends stories that are both up to the minute and from the past (to provide historical context). Woodward speaks as he writes – crisp and concise – and helps people get behind the spin to understand what’s really going on in the halls of power in an age of 24-hour news, social media, and snarky politics.
Professionally, Bob Woodward is currently associate editor for The Washington Post where he’s worked since 1971. He has won nearly every American journalism award, and the Post won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for his work with Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal. In addition, Woodward was the main reporter for the Post’s articles on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks that won the National Affairs Pulitzer Prize in 2002.
Bob Schieffer of CBS News said “Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time.” Jill Abramson, the former editor of The New York Times, wrote in her review of Fear for The Washington Post, “Woodward is truth’s gold standard.” The Weekly Standard called Woodward “the best pure reporter of his generation, perhaps ever.” In 2003, Al Hunt of The Wall Street Journal called Woodward “the most celebrated journalist of our age.” In listing the all-time 100 best non-fiction books, Time magazine has called All the President’s Men, by Bernstein and Woodward, “Perhaps the most influential piece of journalism in history.”
Woodward has co-authored or authored 13 #1 national best-selling non-fiction books. They are: All the President’s Men (1974) and The Final Days (1976), both Watergate books, co-authored with Bernstein. The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court (1979) co-authored with Scott Armstrong, Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi (1984), Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-87 (1987), The Commanders (1991), The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House (1994), Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate (1999), Bush at War (2002), Plan of Attack (2004), State of Denial: Bush at War Part III (2006), and Obama’s Wars (2010), and Fear: Trump in the White House (2018). Woodward’s other national bestselling books: The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat (2005), The Choice (1996), Maestro: Greenspan’s Fed and the American Boom (2000), The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 (2008), The Price of Politics (2012), and The Last of the President’s Men (2015). Newsweek magazine has excerpted six of Woodward’s books in headline-making cover stories; “60 Minutes” has done pieces on seven of his books; three of his books have been made into feature films.
In November 2017, the online learning portal MasterClass released “Bob Woodward Teaches Investigative Journalism.” In it Woodward reveals the lessons he’s learned during his 45-year career, teaching students what truth means, how to uncover it, and how to build a story with it.
Woodward was born March 26, 1943 in Illinois. He graduated from Yale University in 1965 and served five years as a communications officer in the U.S. Navy before beginning his journalism career at the Montgomery County Sentinel (Maryland), where he was a reporter for one year before joining the Post.