Bio-Bob Woodward

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State of Denial

Bob Woodward

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Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward Date of birth: March 26, 1943

Robert U. Woodward was born in Geneva, Illinois, and raised in nearby Wheaton. Woodward's father was a prominent attorney, and hoped that Robert would follow in his footsteps. He attended Yale University on a Naval ROTC scholarship, and majored in history and English literature. A few weeks after receiving his B.A. degree in 1965, he entered the United States Navy for a four-year tour of duty. The American escalation in Vietnam had just begun. When Woodward left the Navy, American involvement in Vietnam -- and domestic opposition to the war -- were at their height.

At the end of his military service, Woodward applied to Harvard Law School, and was accepted for the fall 1970 term, but he chose to pursue a career in journalism instead. He persuaded The Washington Post to give him an unpaid two-week try-out. Not one of the 17 stories he filed was printed. The Post editors concluded that he was not ready for a major metropolitan daily newspaper, and arranged for him to take job as one of four reporters at a small suburban weekly, The Montgomery County Sentinel.

He quickly tired of the routine assignments his position offered, and began to hunt for news on his own. He soon became the paper's leading reporter, and by September 1971, the Post was ready to give him another try. He was assigned to the police beat, from 7:00 in the evening to 3:00 in the morning, but he did not limit his work activities to his assigned hours. By day, he circulated in the city's government offices, and pressed civil servants for every piece of information that might prove useful. Within a year, his by-line was appearing on the front page.

Early one Saturday morning, June 17, 1972, the Post's city editor called Woodward to tell him that five men with cameras and electronic surveillance equipment had been arrested breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex. Woodward was assigned to cover the breaking story, along with a younger but more experienced reporter, Carl Bernstein.

Although Woodward and Bernstein were able to link the burglary of Democratic National Headquarters to operatives inside the Nixon White House, and to President Nixon's re-election campaign, they were unable at first to prove any direct involvement by the President or his senior staff to either the burglary or its subsequent cover-up. Most news outlets dropped the story, and Nixon was re-elected in a historic landslide.

When the Post persevered with the investigation, President Nixon induced the FCC to challenge the licenses of the Post's television stations. With the full support of their editor, Ben Bradlee, Woodward and Bernstein continued to pursue the story, and little by little uncovered a larger story of the abuse of power and the obstruction of justice.

In August 1974, the President, facing near certain impeachment and conviction, resigned his office and accepted a blanket pardon for any actions he may have committed in office. Woodward and Bernstein's account of the investigation, All The President's Men, became a national best-seller and was made into a popular motion picture. A second book by Woodward and Bernstein on the collapse of the Nixon administration, The Final Days, was also a huge success.

With astonishing regularity, Woodward has continued to produce best-selling books on previously hidden aspects of American life. His works to date include The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court; The Man Who Would Be President: Dan Quayle; Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi; Veil: The Secret Ways of the CIA; The Commanders, a look inside the decision making process behind the 1991 Persian Gulf War; The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House; and The Choice, on the 1996 presidential campaign. His latest book is Bush at War.

Now an assistant managing editor at The Washington Post, Bob Woodward is responsible for the paper's special investigative projects. The Academy of Achievement's interview with Bob Woodward is combined with an interview with his longtime editor and mentor, Ben Bradlee.

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