Woodward, as you know, met with a character named “Deep Throat” in a parking garage during the Watergate saga. Before he died, at age 91, Mark Felt identified himself in a Vanity Fair article as “Deep Throat.” Felt was # 2, but he never made it to the top of the FBI, a position he greatly coveted. You can read the article, published on July 1, 2005 by clicking here.
This book is entitled The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat (New York: Simon and Schuster), and includes a “reporter’s assessment” by Carl Bernstein.
Although I am reading this nine years late, and had to purchase it through third-party sellers as it is out of print, I find the story intriguing and revealing. I particularly enjoy the corroboration of Woodward’s recollections with the factual Nixon recordings, his own notes and memos, and FBI file reports.
Perhaps more than anything else, I am moved by the personal reactions that Woodward had before, during, and after these sessions with Felt. And, the fact that while Felt could no longer remember others in that era, he could still remember Woodward.
To be clear, Dean obviously held Felt in great contempt. In his new book, he calls him highly manipulative. I don’t think Woodward would disagree with that assessment. Felt gave Woodward what he wanted to give him, in his own way, on his own terms, and sometimes, not at all. Felt was often very early, very late, or even a no-show for the scheduled parking garage meetings with Woodward.
I will go back and finish the Dean book now. I think I am better prepared as a reader having made this quick diversion.
By the way, these are two pictures of Mark Felt. The one on the left is from his FBI days. The one on the right is from the day he announced himself as “Deep Throat” for the Vanity Fair article.
Thor, has written numerous thrillers, one of which, The Lions of Lucerne (New York: Pocket Books, 2002) will be adapted for the big screen in 2015. You can read more about him at his web site by clicking here.
There are only a few books that I can honestly describe as not being able to put down. This is one of them.
I believe that one reason Thor is a great writer is that his books focus. There are not too many characters and not too many scenes, but just enough to keep the reader moving.
The key character is Scot Harvath, a former Navy SEAL and presidential secret service veteran, who returns from Thor’s previous books. He finds his hands full with the CIA, FBI, and local law enforcement when a critical quest for a terrorist provides startling information. The novel revolves around a top-secret operation developed by high-level individuals in the Chinese government. They have the objective of bringing the United States to its knees through multiple terrorist activities. At every level, their plan seems to have a strong chance to succeed in a swift and devastating manner. Harvath is pressured by the American president who stays on top of all the activities. He approves two missions that if Harvath cannot keep secret would end his career, and even his life. One of these Harvath controls, and the other is a chilling attempt to send a group secretly into North Korea. Time remains prominent and of the essence at every point in the story.
Readers will tell that this is a well-researched book. Thor provides a long list of acknowledgements, indicating the extensive scope of historians, military and law enforcement officials, and various other contributors who make this book believable.
I won’t tell you more so you can read this yourself. Since this is fiction, it does not qualify for the kinds of books we present, so you won’t be able to hear this at the First Friday Book Synopsis.
However, maybe in a few years, you will watch an adaptation of this at a theatre. I think it’s that good.
One of the great gender-based stereotypes about authors is that females emphasize character development, while males emphasize plot development. Intuitively, I believe this to be true, but it is never exemplified any better than in two recent non-fiction best-sellers.
Claire Messud wrote The Woman Upstairs (Knopf, 2013), a first-person rendition of Nora Eldridge, an elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who exploits her creative habits in a studio with a partner who is the parent of one of her students. I have never read such a deeply detailed and intimately personal description of a character. Not only does the reader understand Nora’s thoughts and behaviors, but we are also treated to her thoughts behind her thoughts, allowing us to actually predict her next thought and her next movement. The story dances about, and may actually be fairly shallow, but that is not the strength of this book. Readers know the characters as well as is possible.
Contrast that book with The Highway by C.J. Box (Minotaur, 2013). This is a story about an evil and sordid truck driver, two teenage sisters, a former police investigator, and his young former partner. The book is action-filled, moving rapidly between scene and scene, almost as if time were an enemy. While we follow the characters, we really don’t know them very well. They are simply pawns on the larger board of a riveting story. We learn enough about them to allow us to move through the action, but there is minimal coverage of their backgrounds, personality, and inner-most thoughts. I personally hope that someone purchases this script to make a movie. It would be a good one.
The point of all this is that there are differences. Even Catherine Coulter, who has made a career writing FBI thrillers gives us greater character insight than authors such as John Grisham or John Sandford. Maybe we see what we want to see when we read these books. And, there are certainly exceptions.
But, that’s how I see it. What about you? Let’s talk about it really soon!