Summary of The Secret Man

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The Secret Man book summary


10 Overall

9 Importance

10 Innovation

10 Style


Author and veteran reporter Bob Woodward ends this book by saying, "There never is a final draft of history." Perhaps, but his book turns the page on an era and on Deep Throat - the code name for FBI official W. Mark Felt - the pivotal secret source for the Watergate stories that helped bring down Richard Nixon’s presidency. Remarkably, Woodward and his Washington Post colleagues protected their source’s identity for more than 30 years. Woodward paints a compelling portrait of his almost tortured relationship with Felt, a father figure and mentor. Several times Felt came a hair’s breadth from being exposed. Pained, Woodward admits that he missed his chance to uncover Felt’s motivations for abetting the Post’s investigative crusade. By the time Woodward tried to reconcile their troubled relationship, Felt was 87 and dementia had twisted his memory. Yet, Felt triumphed in his historic clash with Nixon. Woodward concludes, "By surviving and enduring his hidden his own way, W. Mark Felt won." Carl Bernstein’s epilogue, "A Reporter’s Assessment," is an equally fascinating contribution. getAbstract most highly recommends this book, especially for those seeking a better understanding of the Watergate participants, whose actions will continue to ripple the waters of American politics for many years to come.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How reporter Bob Woodward developed the source that would become Deep Throat;
  • How leaks from FBI official W. Mark Felt affected the course of the Watergate scandal;
  • How Felt’s identity was nearly revealed on several occasions; and
  • What decision-making process finally led Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to confirm that Felt was, in fact, Deep Throat.

About the Author

Bob Woodward is synonymous with American investigative journalism, having covered the Watergate scandal with colleague Carl Bernstein. He has written or co-written 10 nonfiction bestsellers, including The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court and Plan of Attack, his account of the Bush Administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq.



Deep Dilemmas
Bob Woodward first met Deep Throat in late 1969 or early 1970. Woodward was a young Navy lieutenant whose boss had dispatched him to the White House to drop off some papers. His tour in the Navy was ending and he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. By his own ...

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