Woodward and Bernstein: Life In The Shadow of Watergate, by Alicia C. Shepard, looks beyond what one might expect. It is about one of the most infamous times in political history, but it also deftly tells the tale of two reporters who made the working man's odd couple.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein may have been reporters, but the similarity ends there. They are as different as night and day, but they needed each other to break a scandal which kick-started them into journalistic fame. As a journalist herself, Shepard takes a detailed look at their unpredictable rise.
Bob Woodward was a Yale graduate and a Naval Officer before joining the Washington Post as a staff member. Work-wise, he had much to admire. Long hours ensured his accuracy and sources quoted correctly. However, there was one area where he failed miserably. He had no concept of writing as a journalist. Take 'lead' for example, referring to the opening paragraph of a story. It draws readers in to the end. Woodward, at the start of his career, didn't know what it meant. Management told Woodward he needed to get his feet wet with a smaller paper before being hired by the Post .
Carl Bernstein, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. Far from fitting the straight-laced, three-piece-suited corporate image, anti-establishment does not describe him accurately enough. Bernstein was notorious for missing deadlines. What he did have was a working knowledge of the nation's capital, having been born and raised there.
These two men probably would not have decided to team up if the choice were theirs alone. Watergate intervened. From the beginning, it seemed to be a blip on the radar not worth mentioning. The headquarters of the Democratic National Committee was housed at the Watergate hotel. When five men in business suits robbed it, they were quickly arrested.