21 Must-Read Bob Woodward Books

For more than 40 years, Bob Woodward has been one of the country's most respected journalists and authors. He is best known for his reporting on the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, for which they both won a Pulitzer Prize.

Over the years, Woodward has written numerous bestselling books on politics and Washington D.C.

Top nonfiction books by Woodward include All the President's Men, Rage, and The Final Days.

Here are 21 of his must-read titles.

Books by Bob Woodward

1. All the President's Men

All the President's Men

Written by: Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward

Published: 1974

Pages: 349

In the early 1970s, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were two young reporters for The Washington Post. Working together, they exposed the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

This book is a gripping account of how they uncovered the most significant political cover-up in American history. With unparalleled access to key players in Washington politics, Bernstein and Woodward provide an astonishingly detailed behind-the-scenes view of this complex and dark chapter in American history.

Bernstein and Woodward's journalistic prowess brought down a corrupt president and landed them Pulitzer Prizes.

2. The Final Days

The Final Days

Written by: Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein

Published: 1976

Pages: 476

The Washington Post reporters who brought down President Nixon with their Watergate coverage now tell the whole story of his final days in office as the end was near.

The result is a gripping account of Nixon's last months, from his shock at learning of the Watergate break-in two years earlier to his anguished decision to resign. Along the way, we see Nixon at his most vulnerable and human, surrounded by sycophantic aides even as he faces certain impeachment.

Through unprecedented access to White House tapes, memos, and diaries, Bernstein and Woodward provide readers with a front-row seat to history in the making.

3. The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court

The Brethren

Written by: Bob Woodward, Scott Armstrong

Published: 1979

Pages: 467

Many people think they know what goes on behind those closed doors when it comes to the Supreme Court. But few know the true story of what happens within the court's walls.

This ranges from petty squabbles, exclusion of others, and the downright scheming to gain control of it. Drawing on interviews with current and former court members and clerks and aides, Woodward and Armstrong piece together an unprecedented view of the inner workings of America's most powerful court.

The book is also fascinating, providing insights into how this vital institution works both for and against the public.

4. Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi


Published: 1984

Pages: 461

As one of America's most iconic comedians, Belushi's short life is explored in detail, from his early days on Saturday Night Live to his meteoric rise to fame as a star of movies such as The Blues Brothers.

However, Woodward also shines a light on the dark side of Belushi's life, including his struggles with drug addiction. Tragically, Belushi's addiction would lead to his death at 33.

Drawing on interviews with a significant number of friends, family, and colleagues, Bob Woodward offers an in-depth look at the life and death of John Belushi. And, if you loved Belushi, you would see just how many enabled him for their agendas.

5. Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987


Published: 2005 (1987)

Pages: 592

It is no secret that the Central Intelligence Agency has been involved in various covert operations worldwide over the years. But what is less well known is the extent of these activities and what CIA members have taken to carry out their missions.

This book provides a detailed account of some of the agency's most secretive and dangerous operations during this time. These include ones in Central America, Libya, and Iran.

Based on extensive interviews with participants from both sides of the conflict, Woodward offers a unique insider’s perspective on these events. If you're interested in learning more about what goes on behind closed doors at America's intelligence agencies, it is for you.

6. The Commanders

The Commanders

Published: 1991

Pages: 399

This book focuses primarily on the run-up to the Iraq crisis and the invasion that occurred in Panama. Most people know of Iraq, but the information on Panama is fascinating and less known.

Looking at how President H.W. Bush, General Colin Powell, and Vice-President Cheney all acted during this time shows a very different belief system. Interestingly, Cheney is much less of the war-loving hawk he later became. At the same time, Powell continued to be the same person, calm, but also not particularly willing to be definitive in his choices and words.

If you want to know who makes the decisions in the White House and how we go to war, this is a great primer.

7. The Agenda

The Agenda

Published: 1994

Pages: 352

This book starts with Clinton running and winning the presidency. It then provides a detailed account of the first year of his presidency. From the offset, Woodward has extensive sources within the administration, and he provides insights that are both interesting and troubling.

The book offers a fascinating look at how policy is crafted in the most high-pressure environment in the world.

It also paints a portrait of a president who is intelligent and deeply committed to his principles. However, he also must constantly fight against a Congress that wants to stop any advancement that would help move the country forward.

8. The Choice

The Choice

Published: 1996

Pages: 462

This book leads up to the 1996 presidential campaign between President Clinton and Senator Bob Dole. You will learn a lot about Senator Bob Dole and other people who ran against them.

You get to see Dole as a quiet and respectful man behind the times and trying to adjust on the fly. Meanwhile, Clinton has brought in Dick Morris to help him. Morris then figured out a way to be more influential than many others, including the Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.

Especially intriguing is that President Clinton wanted Dole to win the primary because he believed that he would be the best alternative among the rest of the candidates.

9. Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate


Published: 1999

Pages: 592

In 1974, the Watergate scandal brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon and ushered in a new era of investigative journalism.

In Shadow, Bob Woodward draws on five presidents who have faced scandal and investigation in the years since Watergate to explore the legacy of that landmark event. From Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon to Bill Clinton's impeachment, Woodward shows how the specter of Watergate has shaped each president.

He also examines the role of the media in holding presidents accountable and how presidents have responded to that pressure. When the line between private life and public service has become increasingly blurred, Shadow is an essential read for anyone interested in American politics.

10. Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom


Published: 2000

Pages: 270

In his book Maestro, Bob Woodward tells the story of Alan Greenspan's tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Greenspan is widely credited with helping to create the conditions for the "American Boom" of the 1990s, a period of strong economic growth and low inflation.

However, some have criticized him for allegedly keeping interest rates too low for too long, which they believe led to the housing bubble and financial crisis of 2008.

While it is difficult to say definitively whether Greenspan was responsible for the boom or the bust, there is no doubt that he was one of the most influential economic policymakers of his time.

11. Bush at War

Bush at War (Bush at War #1)

Published: 2003

Pages: 382

This book provides an in-depth look at the inner workings of the George W. Bush administration in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.

Drawing on extensive interviews with key administration members, including President Bush himself, Woodward paints a detailed picture of the decision-making process that led to the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

He also offers insight into the administration's challenges in prosecuting its "war on terror," including the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Although some may disagree with the decisions made, Bush at War provides a valuable behind-the-scenes look at how those decisions were made and why.

12. Plan of Attack

Plan of Attack (Bush at War #2)

Written by: Bob Woodward and Alice Mayhew

Published: 2004

Pages: 480

Woodward and Mayhew take readers behind the scenes of the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq. The authors interviewed more than 70 people, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of State Powell.

The authors show that the invasion was not a spur-of-the-moment decision but rather the result of careful planning by a small group of top officials. They also had access to classified documents and records. The result is a comprehensive and detailed picture of the decision.

They also show that the administration was determined to carry out the invasion even in the face of significant opposition from within the government.

13. The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat

The Secret Man

Published: 2005

Pages: 249

In 1972, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were reporters for the Washington Post covering the Watergate scandal. One of their sources was a man known only as "Deep Throat."

Deep Throat was a senior official in the Nixon administration who provided Woodward and Bernstein with information that helped them break the story.

In 2005, Deep Throat was revealed to be Mark Felt, the Deputy Director of the FBI. The Secret Man is his story. In this book, Felt describes his motivations for leaking information to the press and provides an inside look at the Nixon administration. He also addresses the criticisms that have been leveled against him over the years. The sad part is to see how Felt ended up with dementia and whether his answers are clear or not.

14. State of Denial

State of Denial

Published: 2007

Pages: 560

In this book, Woodward documents the inner workings of the Bush administration during the Iraq War. Woodward details the infighting and dysfunction that characterized the Bush White House during this critical period.

Through a combination of interviews, memos, and other primary sources, Woodward paints a picture of an administration in disarray, struggling to come to grips with an increasingly unpopular war. While State of Denial is unlikely to change anyone's mind about the Iraq War, it provides valuable insights into the decision-making process of the Bush administration.

This is essential for anyone interested in understanding how the Iraq War unfolded.

15. The War Within: A Secret White House History

The War Within

Published: 2008

Pages: 6

The book chronicles the inner workings of the White House during the last years of the administration of George W. Bush.

It provides an intimate look at the decision-making process that took place during some of the most critical moments in Bush's presidency regarding the war in Iraq. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with key participants, this book offers a rare glimpse into the mechanics of power and decision-making at the highest levels of government.

With Bush trusting his gut and Dick Cheney, instead of others who saw the folly of the war, the outcomes would be dire.

16. Obama’s Wars

Obama’s Wars

Published: 2010

Pages: 441

This book gives an inside look at the Obama administration's debates and decision-making process regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the most revealing aspects of the book is the tension between the military and civilian members of the administration. The generals want to pursue a more aggressive strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the civilians are more cautious, preferring to wind down the wars and focus on domestic issues.

This conflict is mirrored in the more significant debate about America's role in the world. Should we continue to be the world's policeman, or should we take a more isolationist approach?

Woodward interviewed more than three hundred people, including President Obama, to provide a comprehensive and objective account.

17. The Price of Politics

The Price of Politics

Published: 2012

Pages: 380

For those interested in politics and economic policy, this book offers readers a behind-the-scenes look at the negotiations between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans over the nation's debt and deficit.

He chronicles the President's battle to pass his stimulus package through a divided Congress, and he details the infighting between various administration members over economic policy. Throughout the book, Woodward provides readers with an insightful and informative look at the politics of governing during tough economic times.

Woodward draws on hundreds of hours of interviews with participants in the negotiations to provide a detailed account of the president's attempts to reach a compromise with House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders.

18. The Last of the President’s Men

The Last of the President’s Men

Published: 2015

Pages: 304

A final follow-up to the Watergate scandal, this book is about the consequences of Alexander Butterfield being interviewed by Congress and admitting that Nixon had secretly been taping conversations.

Woodward interviewed former Nixon aide Alexander Butterfield for the book, and Butterfield revealed more about the tapes, which proved that Nixon had been involved in the Watergate cover-up.

With over forty hours interviewing Butterfield and access to his papers and Watergate national archives, this is an essential look at someone who changed history.

19. Fear: Trump in the White House


Published: 2018

Pages: 448

The book is based on hundreds of hours of interviews with first-hand sources, and it paints a portrait of a White House in chaos. According to Woodward, Donald Trump is a volatile and impulsive leader who often disregards the advice of his staff.

Woodward portrays a White House plagued by infighting, backstabbing, and dysfunction, where even the most senior officials are constantly scrambling to keep up with the mercurial president. Trump is also said to be fixated on the figure of Barack Obama, and he is continuously seeking ways to undo his predecessor's accomplishments because of his narcissism.

As would be expected, the book shows that many members of Trump's inner circle are deeply concerned about his mental state and believe that he is unfit to be president.

20. Rage


Published: 2020

Pages: 475

In his new book, Rage, Bob Woodward explores the inner workings of the Trump administration and the president’s mindset in the face of multiple crises. Based on exclusive interviews with dozens of former administration officials and over hours alone with Trump, this offers a unique and insightful look at Trump's decision-making process.

It covers everything from the administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic to Trump's relations with Russia and North Korea. This includes information on the 25 letters that he and North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un and he sent to each other. And, in Trump's own words, it was like a "fantasy film.” It also examines the Mueller investigation and the impeachment proceedings.

Throughout, Woodward provides readers with a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into Trump's terrifying thought process and how he operates under pressure.

21. Peril


Published: 2021

Pages: 512

This book focuses on the ending of Trump's presidency and then on the early months of President Biden as he starts to deal with the disaster that Trump has left him. After all the turmoil and worldwide embarrassment caused by Trump, it is interesting to see the difference between the two.

Biden is calm under pressure and takes his time while listening to his staff. He looks at issues, weighs the costs and benefits, and is willing to keep an open mind. This is especially important because of the economic problems, COVID, and much else that Trump ignored.

As Biden declared at his inauguration, “We have much to do in this winter of peril.” Little did he know how right he would be.