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Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throatby Max Holland
Synopses & Reviews
Through the shadowy persona of "Deep Throat," FBI official Mark Felt became as famous as the Watergate scandal his "leaks" helped uncover. Best known through Hal Holbrook's portrayal in the film version of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's All the President's Men, Felt was regarded for decades as a conscientious but highly secretive whistleblower who shunned the limelight. Yet even after he finally revealed his identity in 2005, questions about his true motivations persisted.
Max Holland has found the missing piece of that Deep Throat puzzle—one that's been hidden in plain sight all along. He reveals for the first time in detail what truly motivated the FBI's number-two executive to become the most fabled secret source in American history. In the process, he directly challenges Felt's own explanations while also demolishing the legend fostered by Woodward and Bernstein's bestselling account.
Holland critiques all the theories of Felt's motivation that have circulated over the years, including notions that Felt had been genuinely upset by White House law-breaking or had tried to defend and insulate the FBI from the machinations of President Nixon and his Watergate henchmen. And, while acknowledging that Woodward finally disowned the "principled whistleblower" image of Felt in The Secret Man, Holland shows why that famed journalist's latest explanation still falls short of the truth.
Holland showcases the many twists and turns to Felt's story that are not widely known, revealing not a selfless official acting out of altruistic patriotism, but rather a career bureaucrat with his own very private agenda. Drawing on new interviews and oral histories, old and just-released FBI Watergate files, papers of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, presidential tape recordings, and Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate-related papers, he sheds important new light on both Felt's motivations and the complex and often problematic relationship between the press and government officials.
Fast-paced and scrupulously fact-checked, Leak resolves the mystery residing at the heart of Mark Felt's actions. By doing so, it radically revises our understanding of America's most famous presidential scandal.
"Holland (The Kennedy Assassination Tapes) digs in to another great American mystery: the true character of Mark Felt, a.k.a. Deep Throat, primum mobile of the Watergate scandal's spread to national consciousness and the 20th century's most fabled whistleblower. Holland maintains that Felt was motivated primarily by 'self-interest, rather than a principle.' The then second-in-charge of the FBI was seeking to discredit his boss L. Patrick Gray III, a perceived 'crony' of Nixon, whose appointment from outside the bureau following the death of J. Edgar Hoover was cause for discord within — especially for Felt, the heir apparent. As opposed to the transgression itself, the public trauma known as Watergate seeped from insidious rivalries in and around the house that Hoover built. These were the same men who had been involved in COINTELPRO, then the most unrestrained invasion of domestic privacy to date; what the Nixon administration was guilty of could hardly be cause for moral outrage on their part. Holland's storytelling is often less than fluid, his analytical bent tending to intrude on the narrative. That his thesis of frustrated ambition has been around since the '70s is the least of it: no room is allowed the possibility that Felt's motivations evolved right along with public consciousness of the facts he relayed. Still, for the world's haggard realists, those who would seek out Kurtz in the jungle, Holland's attempt to illuminate Deep Throat's motives is compelling. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reveals for the first time in detail what truly motivated Mark Felt, the FBI's number-two executive, to become the most fabled secret source in American history. Showcases the many twists and turns to Felt's story that are not widely known, revealing not a selfless official acting out of altruistic patriotism, but rather a career bureaucrat with his own very private agenda.
About the Author
Max Holland is editor of the website Washington Decoded, contributing editor to the Wilson Quarterly and The Nation, and author of The Kennedy Assassination Tapes: The White House Conversations of Lyndon B. Johnson Regarding the Assassination, the Warren Commission, and the Aftermath. He received the J. Anthony Lukas WorkinProgress Award for a forthcoming book on the Warren Commission.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters
1. A Forced Departure: May 1973
2. The "War of the FBI Succession" 1969-1972
3. Felt's Private COINTELPRO: June 1972
4. To Leak or Not to Leak? July 1972
5. Special Agent Woodward: August 1972
6. Retracing the Bureau's Steps: August - October 1972
7. Richard Nixon's Own "Deep Throat": October 1972
8. "A Claque of Ambitious Men": November 1972 - January 1973
9. The Safe Choice: February 1973
10. Gray Self-Destructs: March - May 1973
11. The Making of Deep Throat: 1973-1981
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