Carl Bernstein was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 (Bernstein 1). His journalism career began when he got a job as a copy boy at the Washington Post when he was 16 (Bernstein 1). “He worked his way onto the reporting staff, dropping out of the University of Maryland at College Park along the way” (Bernstein 1). “After an award-winning stint at the Daily Journal in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Bernstein returned to Washington, D.C., as a reporter at the Post in 1966” (Bernstein 1).
Bernstein was not originally assigned to cover the Watergate break-in (Bernstein 1). He “took great interest in the story and soon was teamed with Woodward to investigate the burglary” (Bernstein 1).
Robert Upshur, known as Bob, Woodward was born in Geneva, Illinois, in 1943 (Woodward 1). He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1965 and served in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1970 (Woodward 1). “Woodward interned at The Washington Post in 1970 but was let go due to his lack of experience” (Woodward 1). He then reported for the Montgomery County Sentinel in Maryland where he yielded a number of significant stories (Woodward 1). Woodward was hired back to the Post in 1971 as a full-time reporter (Woodward 1).
“In 1971, Woodward and Bernstein were assigned to cover the arraignment of five men who had been arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.” (Woodward 1). Their “reporting eventually showed that the break-in had been orchestrated by high-ranking officials of the Nixon administration and the Committee to Re-elect the President, and that the break-in was part of a pattern of White House political ‘dirty tricks’ that included wiretapping, burglary and disruption of Democratic Party activities” (Woodward 1).
“Woodward and Bernstein won virtually every major journalism award for their work, including the Pulitzer Prize” (Bernstein 1). “They also wrote two best-selling books, All the President’s Men (1974) and The Final Days (1976), based on their work on the Watergate stories” (Bernstein 1).
Both Woodward and Bernstein moved on to greater achievements after Watergate. “Bernstein earned a law degree from BostonUniversity in 1975 and left the Post in 1976” (Bernstein 2). “He later worked for ABC television news for four years, taught at New York University, and was employed briefly at Time magazine” (Bernstein 2). In 1989 Bernstein published Loyalties, an “account of his childhood growing up with leftist parents among the anti-Communist fervor of the 1950s” (Bernstein 2).
Woodward “became the assistant managing editor for investigations at the Washington Post” in 1981 (Woodward 2). He “wrote a number of other successful books, including The Brethren (1979), Wired (1984), Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA (1987), The Commanders (1991), The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House (1994), and The Choice (1996)” (Woodward 2).
All the President’s Men opens the morning of the Burglary at Democratic headquarters. Woodward receives a call telling him about the burglary and is asked to come in to work. He began working on the story and noticed that his colleague, Carl Bernstein, was working on a story about the burglary as well. At this point, the two had never worked on a story together.
Woodward and Bernstein were both asked to come to the office on a Sunday morning to follow up on their stories. Due to some wires that had come in that morning dealing with the burglary, both started writing new stories to follow up their originals. After Woodward turned his story into the editor, Bernstein relieved it from him and began rewriting it better.
Woodward and Bernstein continued to write stories on the break-in and eventually teamed up together. Eventually, they became known to their colleagues as “Woodstein.” Through their investigations, Woodstein began to unravel the truth behind the burglary. Along the way, they learned that there was a lot more going on than just the burglary.
Through their contacts, Woodstein learned that Watergate was not an isolated event. They learned that there were other events going on to hurt the democratic presidential nominees and ensure Nixon’s reelection. Some events included hiring people to spy on one democratic representative supposedly for the other democratic representative; starting an illegal fund that was used to pay anyone who helped the cause; and sabotaging the opposing nominees.
Woodstein used many different sources in their stories including some members of Nixon’s party, the FBI, some members of the Senate Committee who would be present during the Watergate trial and a friend of Woodward’s who had inside information about Watergate. Woodward’s source, known as “Deep Throat,” became as popular a name as Watergate did.
Along the way of the investigation, Woodstein began to learn that the Watergate incident and those tied to it went deeper and deeper than they thought. The results of their articles and the investigation led to some members of Nixon’s staff to be terminated. Eventually, the reporters began to realize that Nixon was the head culprit of the whole situation. At the end of the book, the House Judiciary Committee began its investigation into President Nixon.
Most of the book read like a mystery. Even though I knew the outcome, I still held my breath at certain moments when something unexpected happened or I was waiting to see the outcome of a situation. For me, it was almost like reading a John Grisham novel. I did, however, have trouble following the political aspects of the book. Politics has never been my strong suit.
Due to this trouble, I found I was missing a lot of the story, but I was always able to find my way back and figure out what was going on. To me, that shows that the book was put together well. The way a lot of the scenes were described held my interest too. I especially enjoyed the scenes in the newsroom, which I found to be funny, chaotic, stressful and friendly. I liked the family atmosphere these scenes created.
I also enjoyed learning how Woodward and Bernstein worked. I got tired just reading about all the work and time they spent investigating and writing the stories. Although I thought their jobs were very interesting and perhaps fun at times, the book convinced me that my decision not to write for newspapers was a good one. I know I could never handle the hours or the stress that goes along with investigating a big story.
There were a couple of scenes in the story that stood out to me. One was when Woodward and Bernstein found out they had gotten an issue they had written about in one of their stories wrong. I could almost feel the emotions going through them. As a journalist, one of the most important values is getting a story right. The book told of the consequences the reporters had to face after this incident, and it’s something I never want to have to face in my career.
Another scene that stood out to me was when Woodward was waiting for Deep Throat to show up for one of their meetings. Deep throat didn’t show up, but Woodward waited for him for awhile in a darkened garage. The scene described was of a darkened, deserted place where anybody could have jumped out of nowhere. While I was reading this scene, I felt a little uneasy, like Woodward did, not knowing what may be coming.
I enjoyed the book and felt it taught me what might be expected of a journalist writing for a major newspaper. I learned that, although it was interesting and a bit exciting, I didn’t want to be that kind of a reporter. I would prefer something more quiet.