home carl portrait
Praise from the Critics

"…a model of contemporary political biography . . . thorough, balanced, judicious and deeply reported . . . Bernstein almost always finds new facts and telling details"Los Angeles Times (Ronald Brownstein)

"A remarkably revealing portrait." The Wall Street Journal

"….A balanced and convincing picture of Mrs. Clinton . . . [Bernstein] also poses the essential concerns voters will need to confront in deciding whether they will support Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 candidacy." The New York Times (Robert Dallek, author Nixon and Kissinger)

"Bernstein, the famed All the President's Men journalist, is dead solid perfect in his reporting here …The detail and digging on display in A Woman in Charge is stunning."Chicago Sun-Times

"A Woman in Charge is the most reliable Hillary Clinton biography to date, a must-read for anybody closely following the 2008 campaign."Boston Globe (Douglas Brinkley, editor, the Reagan Diaries)

"[Carl Bernstein] has not lost his reporter’s touch, and A Woman in Charge has already refocused serious questions—and supplied new information—about Hillary and Bill Clinton, their past behavior and their current ambitions to regain the White House."Kevin Phillips, The Washington Post Book World

"Serious, well-researched and fair…A Woman in Charge is painstaking, sensitive and elegantly written."The Economist

"You could say Bernstein has written the definitive book on Hillary."Rocky Mountain News

"… one of the best unauthorized biographies I've ever read about a living person.…. Bernstein masterfully explains Clinton as a complicated human being."St. Petersburg [Fla.] Times

"This superb book … is certain to become the defining biography of Senator Clinton
A Woman In Charge, which Bernstein worked on for more than seven years, was worth waiting for."
Toledo [Ohio] Blade

" sprightly written, often insightful in its judgments, and studded with factual nuggets that enhance the Hillary saga." Salon.com

"…a considerable achievement."Christian Science Monitor

"Bernstein has laboured conscientiously to give us a full and fair portrait of this remarkable figure now poised to be even more historic"Toronto Globe and Mail

David Broder on A Woman in Charge

In his September 6, 2007 column, the esteemed Washington Post columnist writes ...

I have been thinking a lot about Sen. Clinton because part of my vacation reading was Carl Bernstein's fine political biography of her, " A Woman in Charge," published earlier this year. Its 600 pages, carefully reported and written with a commendable evenness of tone, offer perhaps the fullest portrait of this potential president.


home name

Carl Bernstein is the author of A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, considered the definitive biography of its subject.

Here is his latest piece, a pre-debate op-ed written for CNN.com

Clinton needs Obama to carry her across the finish line

September 26, 2016 | By Carl Bernstein on CNN

Not coincidentally, Barack Obama has delivered what historians may judge the most important — and inspiring — speech of his presidency at the critical juncture of an election that in all likelihood will determine the future of America for generations.

And if Hillary Clinton is to succeed Obama as president, he will probably have to drag her across the finish line. How? By providing some credible perspective that — in keeping with the truly American values eloquently expressed this weekend in his dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture — vouches for the basic honor of her life and public service, whatever her considerable shortcomings as a presidential candidate. And by drawing a marked contrast between the life and (often un-American) values of Donald Trump.

Barack Obama's vision of America and its history — the story he told on the Mall Saturday — recognizes that the great struggle and inspiration of our nation since its founding has been over slavery and its legacy. It is his story. He evoked — perhaps as no speech has since Martin Luther King shared his dream just yards away 53 years ago — the agonizing and triumphant narrative of America, which more than anything else, is the story of a nation built by blacks and whites, and shaped by waves of immigration. And that story turns out to be what this election is about.

Hillary Clinton, beginning in Monday's debate, must establish once and for all that her values and the story of her life and her politics have always been rooted in this vision of America, and never strayed; and make indelibly clear that Trump's vision — and all the danger it represents — is totally at odds with the American story told by Obama on Saturday.

"The best history helps us recognize the mistakes that we've made, and the dark corners of the human spirit that we need to guard against," Obama said. Trump's campaign is the exposition and exploitation of those dark corners.

Among the key sentences in the President's speech relevant to the debate and election, none were more important than these: "This museum alone will not alleviate poverty in every inner city, or every rural hamlet. It won't eliminate gun violence from all our neighborhoods, or immediately ensure that justice is always color blind. It won't wipe away every instance of discrimination in a job interview, or a sentencing hearing, or folks trying to rent an apartment. Those things are up to us, the decisions and choices we make."

In the era of civil rights progress following King's speech, Donald Trump walked in his father's footsteps of bigotry and exclusion to prevent blacks and Puerto Ricans from renting thousands of apartment units owned by the Trumps in the '70s in New York City, in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The testimony against Donald Trump's company to this effect is extensive and damning (though, in a consent agreement finally reached with the U.S. Department of Justice in 1975 to rent on a non-discriminatory basis, the Trump Organization did not admit to past discrimination).

In the instance of Fred and Donald Trump, the sins of the father also became the sins of the son. And they endure in his campaign and its underlying assumptions about America and Trump's misreading of its history. They are among the elemental facts at our command to understand Donald Trump — today and yesterday.

Not Hillary Clinton. Hugh Rodham, her father, also embraced the bigotry of his era, and at the family dinner table routinely described blacks in the most demeaning and bigoted terms. But when Hillary was a teenager, a youth minister took her to hear Martin Luther King Jr. preach in Chicago. In college, her advocacy against racial discrimination on and off campus became increasingly activist, and since then, the constant of her public service and her political and cultural beliefs and advocacy has been about equality in every regard for all citizens, and an end to all forms of discrimination.

It is a straight line from the Trump family's rental policies to Donald Trump's campaign policies appealing to bigotry and racism and nativism. None of this is to deny the validity of his (or Bernie Sanders') recognition of the economic marginalization of so many working-class Americans over the past quarter-century, or the apparent blindness of the country's "elites" to their suffering.

"And so this museum provides context for the debate of our times, it illuminates them, and gives us some sense of how they evolved, and perhaps keeps them in proportion," Obama said Saturday.

Through much of this campaign, Hillary Clinton has been her own worst enemy, often failing to explain what truly motivates her quest for the White House.

Beginning in Monday's debate, Clinton needs to tell the story of her life over and over in the context of her advocacy for the kind of America Barack Obama summoned on Saturday.

The press, too, should reflect on the President's assertion of "context for the debate of our times," and the notion of "proportion" in describing and comparing the lives and records of the two candidates and their visions for America.

Obama also said:

"And that's what this museum explains, the fact that our stories have shaped every corner of our culture, the struggles for freedom that took place made our Constitution a real and living document, tested, and shaped, and deepened, and made more profound its meaning for all people.

"The story told here doesn't just belong to black Americans, it belongs to all Americans, for the African-American experience has been shaped just as much by Europeans and Asians and Native Americans and Latinos. We have informed each other. We are polyglot, a stew.

"Scripture promised that if we lift up the oppressed, that our light will rise in the darkness, and our night will become like the noonday. And the story contained in this museum makes those words prophecy. And that's what this day is about, that's what this museum's about."

And that's what the presidential election of 2016 is really about, as he implied.

The outright — and underlying — racism of Trump and his campaign will have to compete from now until November 8 against this vision of America laid out by Obama as the President campaigns intensely on Hillary Clinton's behalf in the remaining 42 days before the election, and notes her fealty to those ideals in a lifetime spent in the political arena. None of this is to deny some of her personal failures and shortcomings on such vivid display since she announced her campaign for the presidency and -- in some instances -- throughout her public life.

In the end, this election is a choice between two different sets of values and visions for America and the real lives lived by the two candidates — not the self-created images or mythical lives of either. Again, the press needs to focus less on the horse race and more on the backgrounds and records of the horses before they got here.

"And so hopefully this museum can help us talk to each other," the president said. "And more importantly, listen to each other. And most importantly, see each other — black and white and Latino and Native American and Asian American — see how our stories are bound together. And bound together with women in America, and workers in America, and entrepreneurs in America, and LGBT Americans."

That has been the undertaking of Hillary Clinton's life — not Donald Trump's. The closing paragraphs of "A Woman in Charge, The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton"— hardly an uncritical biography of its subject, as the Clintons have made clear in their discomfort with the book — are about the opportunity that now lies before her, concluding:

"As a girl and then as a woman, Hillary has almost always been desperate to be a passionate participant and at the center of events: familial, generational, experiential, political, historical. Call it ambition, call it the desire to make the world a better place — she has been driven. Rarely has she stepped aside voluntarily into passivity. Introspection, however, has not been her strong suit; faith in the Lord, and in herself, is.

"Three pillars have held her up through one crisis after another in a life creased by personal difficulties and public and private battles: her religious faith; her powerful urge toward both service and its accompanying sense (for good or ill) of self-importance; and a fierce desire for privacy and secrecy. It is the last of these that seems to cast a larger and larger shadow over who she really is...

"Hillary is neither the demon of the right's perception, nor a feminist saint, nor is she particularly emblematic of her time — perhaps more old-fashioned than modern. Hers is a story of strength and vulnerability, a woman's story. She is an intelligent woman endowed with energy, enthusiasm, humor, tempestuousness, inner strength, spontaneity in private, lethal (almost) powers of retribution, real-life lines that come from deep wounds, and the language skills of a sailor (and of a minister), all evidence of her passion — which, down deep, is perhaps her most enduring and even endearing trait...

"Great politicians have always been marked by the consistency of their core beliefs, their strength of character in advocacy, and the self-knowledge that informs bold leadership. Almost always, Hillary has stood for good things. Yet there is often a disconnect between her convictions and words, and her actions. This is where Hillary disappoints. But the jury remains out. She still has time to prove her case, to effectuate those things that make her special, not fear them or camouflage them. We would all be the better for it, because what lies within may have the potential to change the world, if only a little."

The Pope’s secret letters to Mme. Tymieniecka, first revealed in His Holiness: John Paul II and the History of Our Time, by Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi

Excerpt follows:

In 1974, a vivacious, cosmopolitan Polish aristocrat entered the cardinal’s office convinced she had found a kindred philosophical spirit. Her name was Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, and for the next four years she and the cardinal embarked on a philosophical dialogue that resulted in a recasting and definitive English-language edition of his most important written work, The Acting Person.

Later, after he was elected pope, reporters would scour the earth looking for women who had been Karol Wojtyla’s lover, wife, or companion. They found none because there were none.

But in the process, they overlooked the crucial role of Dr. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka in his life: her influence on his philosophy and thus on his papacy. They missed the fact that she helped to make him prominent—and papabile.

Until Mme. Tymieniecka, the major figures in the adult life of Karol Wojtyla had been men. Her interaction with the cardinal—weeks spent writing together, taking walks, laboring over the text of The Acting Person—and her introduction of Wojtyla first to the European philosophical community and then to American audiences were formative experiences for the young cardinal.

The story of their remarkable collaboration is recorded in their correspondence, more than ninety pieces of which are under lock and key in a Harvard University library; in Tymieniecka’s uncontroverted written account, in her interviews with the authors of this book; and in the personal testimony of Dr. George Huntston Williams, a professor at Harvard Divinity School, author of The Mind of John Paul II: Origins of His Thought and Action (1981), and a friend of Tymieniecka’s.

Continue reading »


Statement from Carl Bernstein about the sale of The Washington Post

On a very personal level, there is obviously a lot of sentiment at this moment—appropriate sadness, for sure. Jeff Bezos in his statement to the Post’s employees, was eloquent about the principles of the Washington Post and the Graham family, and what their stewardship of the paper has meant, for the city and the country.

I have high hopes that today’s announcement will represent a great moment in the history of a great institution: recognition that a new kind of entrepreneurship and leadership, fashioned in the age of the new technology, is needed to lead not just The Post, but perhaps the news business itself, in combining the best of enduring journalistic values with all the potential of the digital era -- including a profit model that will finance a renaissance of the kind of reporting that is essential for Washington, for American journalism, and for the world.

Jeff Bezos seems to me exactly the kind of inventive and innovative choice needed to bring about a recommitment to great journalism on the scale many of us have been hoping for— while employing all the applicable tools and best sensibilities of a new era and the old. The Washington Post is the ideal place for it to happen.

Citizen Rupert

Parliament's remarkable three-hour hearing on July 19, focusing on the role of Rupert Murdoch and top News International executives in the immense phone-hacking scandal, proved an epic Westminster moment. It's now possible to see with historic clarity how a cunning press lord and a gang of enabling thugs, under a cloak of journalistic high-mindedness, managed to capture and control the three essential institutions of contemporary British life: the political system, the media, and the police. A transfixed audience of millions learned how a bullying owner of old-fashioned printing presses and satellite television networks could break Britain's civic compact. It was absolutely riveting -- and deeply depressing.

Continue reading »


Murdoch's Watergate?

The hacking scandal currently shaking Rupert Murdoch's empire will surprise only those who have willfully blinded themselves to that empire's pernicious influence on journalism in the English-speaking world. Too many of us have winked in amusement at the salaciousness without considering the larger corruption of journalism and politics promulgated by Murdoch Culture on both sides of the Atlantic.

The facts of the case are astonishing in their scope. Thousands of private phone messages hacked, presumably by people affiliated with the Murdoch-owned News of the World newspaper, with the violated parties ranging from Prince William and actor Hugh Grant to murder victims and families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The arrest of Andy Coulson, former press chief to Prime Minister David Cameron, for his role in the scandal during his tenure as the paper's editor. The arrest (for the second time) of Clive Goodman, the paper's former royals editor. The shocking July 7 announcement that the paper would cease publication three days later...

Continue reading »


The Idiot Culture (A Pre-Murdoch Report)

This cover story of June 6, 1992 for The New Republic magazine seems especially relevant in light of the Murdoch scandal of 2011. The piece, written for the twentieth anniversary of the Watergate break-in, identified the pernicious influence of tabloid/sleaze journalism that, even then, was beginning to dominate so much of the American media.

It is now nearly a generation since the drama that began with the Watergate break-in and ended with the resignation of Richard Nixon, a full twenty years in which the American press has been engaged in a strange frenzy of self-congratulation and defensiveness about its performance in that affair and afterward. The self-congratulation is not justified; the defensiveness, alas, is. For increasingly the America rendered today in the American media is illusionary and delusionary -- disfigured, unreal, disconnected from the true context of our lives. In covering actually existing American life, the media -- weekly, daily, hourly -- break new ground in getting it wrong. The coverage is distorted by celebrity and the worship of celebrity; by the reduction of news to gossip, which is the lowest form of news; by sensationalism, which is always a turning away from society's real condition; and by a political and social discourse that we -- the press, the media, the politicians, and the people -- are turning into a sewer.

Continue reading »

An open letter from Bernstein to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger

Dear Alan,

There is plenty of time – and there are abundant venues – to debate relevant questions about Mr Snowden's historical role, his legal fate, the morality of his actions, and the meaning of the information he has chosen to disclose.

But your appearance before the Commons today strikes me as something quite different in purpose and dangerously pernicious: an attempt by the highest UK authorities to shift the issue from government policies and excessive government secrecy in the United States and Great Britain to the conduct of the press – which has been quite admirable and responsible in the case of the Guardian, particularly, and the way it has handled information initially provided by Mr Snowden.

Continue reading »

A Woman In Charge

A Woman In Charge

Now a New York Times and National Bestseller, Carl Bernstein’s stunning portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton shows us, as nothing else has, the true trajectory of her life and career.

Marshaling all the skills and energy that propelled his history-making Pulitzer Prize reporting on Watergate, Bernstein gives us the most detailed, sophisticated, comprehensive, and revealing account we have had of the complex--and heretofore camouflaged--human being who has already helped define one presidency and may well become, herself, the woman in charge of another.

He has given us a book that enables us, at last, to address the questions Americans are insistently--even obsessively--asking about Hillary Clinton: What is her character? What is her political philosophy? Who is she? What can we expect of her?

spacer Other Books by Carl Bernstein
spacer All the President's Men
All the President's Men
(with Bob Woodward)
spacer All the President's Men
The Final Days
(with Bob Woodward)
spacer All the President's Men
His Holiness
(with Marco Politi)
spacer LoyaltiesLoyalties spacer


spacer spacer
site design :: scott pilutik spacer