Bob Woodward starts rollout of his Obama book on ABC

Michael Calderone
Bob Woodward book on Obama
Bob Woodward book on Obama

Bob Woodward's fly-on-the-wall books inevitably cause a stir in Washington, both for what they reveal and for the guessing game over who leaked what to the Washington Post's star investigative reporter.

So naturally, buzz is now building over Woodward's forthcoming book. Woodward has been working stealthily on a book about President Obama and foreign policy for over a year, but only Tuesday did publisher Simon & Schuster reveal the cover and title: "Obama's Wars." It hits shelves Sept. 27.

Publication of the book will go hand in hand with plenty of media promotion. The Post will publish an excerpt that morning, just as Woodward begins discussing the book across several ABC News programs.

Woodward sits down first with "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer, for an interview airing on the Sept. 27 newscast and later on "Nightline." The next day, Woodward appears live on ABC's "Good Morning America." The network also nabbed a Sunday show exclusive, with Christiane Amanpour getting a shot at interviewing Woodward on "This Week."

Woodward may get government officials to blab, but he's tight-lipped about his own work before it's published. (After all, he did keep the identity of "Deep Throat" a secret for decades.) However, Woodward explained to The Upshot how the ABC anchor landed the exclusive.

"I found a determined seriousness in ABC and Diane Sawyer on all subjects, particularly the war in Afghanistan," Woodward said.

The ABC News release offers some more details about the forthcoming book:  "Working behind the scenes for 18 months, Woodward has written an intimate and sweeping portrait of Obama making the critical decisions on the Afghanistan War, a secret war in Pakistan and the worldwide fight against terrorism."

Woodward, according to the release, draws from "internal memos, classified documents, meeting notes and hundreds of hours of interviews with most of the key players, including the President."

He has proved over numerous administrations his ability to find sources who will leak. In October, Woodward broke a major story in the Post, which he learned about in the course of reporting out the book. He obtained Gen. Stanley McChrystal's confidential assessment that the U.S. needed more troops in Afghanistan. (Obama escalated the war a few months later by adding 30,000 troops.)

For that reason, many journalists are eager to get their hands on Woodward's latest, given the possibility of new revelations on the Obama administration's handling of Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, Simon & Schuster plans to keep "Obama's Wars" under wraps until it's available in stores. For instance, the publisher is not sending out galleys or review copies before Sept. 27.

Still, the best-laid plans don't always work out when it comes to Woodward's books. News organizations increasingly send out reporters to comb bookstores in the hopes of finding the book mistakenly put on display early. The result is a front-page scoop.

In 2005, USA Today got the first copy of Woodward's "The Secret Man," which described how he got to know Mark Felt (aka "Deep Throat") and later to receive information from him while reporting Watergate. The book was discovered at a bookstore in Fairfax County, Va. The following year, a New York Times reporter similarly bought a copy of "State of Denial" -- Woodward's inside account of how Bush policymakers mishandled key moments in the Iraq war -- that was on display at a bookstore ahead of publication.

(Cover image courtesy of ABC News)