All The President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

All The President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

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The book I chose to read for this assignment was All the President's Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The book was about the biographical accounts of two Washington Post reporters and of how their investigative journalism played a major role in solving one of the largest political scandals in American history. Me being a history buff was happy that the book was on the list of selective readings that we could choose for this assignment and before even reading a page was most certain that I would enjoy the book. I knew some about Watergate already and was eager to jump on the chance to learn more about it, especially from the two people who played the major role of bring the whole scandal to the surface. I had seen the movie before and had known from past experiences that movies leave out so much information when they are based on a book so I knew that I would be getting the full detail in account from the authors that I missed out on before. I am not the type who enjoys reading and it always ends up being a hard struggle for me to get through an entire book, but this book ended up not being like pulling teeth for me. Reading the book ended up being the exact opposite, enjoying it so much that it was hard to put down, not only because of the fact that I was fascinated with the information being provided, but also in the direct way that it was presented.

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On June 17, 1972, where the book starts, is on the day after five burglars had been caught breaking in to the National Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington D.C. The book from there tells how Bernstein and Woodward try to gain knowledge on the truth of the purposes for the break-in, which then lead to other findings of political espionage and sabotage of Democratic functions by the Nixon administration. It gives the first hand account of how the reporters struggled to get information because of how big the cover-up was because of witnesses refusing to talk, and for the ones who did, were very cautious as to not give too much information. Their most famous source, "Deep Throat," was an anonymous source whose name was never given in the stories; much like many who went on the record that was interviewed by the two, was an acquaintance of Woodward who gave Woodward many valuable leads and confirmations to leads they had gotten else where. The reporters were very effective in their investigation, leaving no stone unturned and most of the time wrote very informative, groundbreaking stories. At times the reporters broke rules for doing certain things that were not abiding by rules of journalism which they acknowledged in the book and broke federal laws trying to retain information which almost put them in jail. They also wrote a story with false information in it and had a miscommunication with a couple of their sources which put the Washington Post and both of the writer's careers in a huge bind. The Washington Post was also subject to scrutiny from White House personnel and Republican officials because they felt that they were practicing bias and unethical journalism for writing stories that were untrue and misleading about the things the reporters uncovered. The work the reporters did was a main cause in the aftermath of Watergate, which lead to the president's men being accused of wrong doings in the two reporters stories, pleading guilty to a grand jury and the resignation of the President, Richard Nixon, who himself approved the efforts of espionage and sabotage.
The book was written in a very effective way for many reasons. Instead of writing the book in the first person, which would be the most common way to do so with the authors informing their audience strictly based on personal experiences, the two authors wrote the book in the third person. This proved to be very effective because of the fact that it told the story better and gave a better perception as to what was going on in the book. If the authors' flip-flopped taking turns writing the book, each taking different sections, and the audience would not understand what was going on with the other reporter; how he viewed the situation, what was going on in his head at the time and how he felt. This also opened the door for the audience to get a better understanding of outside characters other than the two authors and explain outside events that were going on that were written about to a fuller extent.
The book is very descriptive and elaborates in giving thoughts and details which help give the reader a complete understanding as to what is going on at the time. It paints a picture in your head while reading the book as if you can see the scene perfectly that the authors are trying to portray. From little things like on page 81, where it explains Bernstein's love for bicycles and the fact that he has trouble thinking that someone involved with the Watergate bugging could love bicycles as well, to a meeting between the two reporters and the editors on the bottom of page 101 and continued through to page 102. The book also gives stars next to certain items which are stated throughout the book, like on page 127,220, etc., meaning that there is a greater explanation for readers to a reference of some sort made in the book that many readers could not be familiar with. There are also many descriptive interviews which give quotes word-for-word and also provide thoughts on how the interviewee sounds on account with the authors who are interviewing them, from tone of their voice, pauses, etc. The one specific interview that comes to mind which was very powerful was Bernstein's phone conversation with the former Attorney General at the time, John N. Mitchell, on page 105.
The one thing that I was displeased with however with the book is how the book ended with President Nixon's State of the Union address on January 30, 1974, which he states that he has no plans of resigning. It has nothing about or makes no references to his actual resignation which he announced on August 8, 1974 (source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/rn37.html). I would have liked if some were written on this, one, to learn more about it, and two, if the reader doesn't know his history, the reader could come to the conclusion that Nixon never did resign.
This book tells a story that is essential for not only journalists to know, but for the overall public as well. It is for the most part a model of how investigative journalism should be carried out and points out things that should not be done through examples of situations the reporters got themselves into. The book shows how powerful journalism can be in bring a whole presidential administration to guilt and without the stories written by Bernstein and Woodward, the scandal could not have possibly been revealed. It also shows the importance of The First Amendment in this country.
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