Woodward, Costa headline Bookfest

Legendary authors detail writing, research of ‘Peril’

Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
By Jay Godwin - https://www.flickr.com/photos

Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa By Jay Godwin – https://www.flickr.com/photos

Anna Reidinger, Contributor

Renowned journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa feature in first event of inaugural AuthorFest, hosted by Simon & Schuster publishing, to discuss their recently finished book Peril.

The new release Peril, written by Woodward and Costa, delves into the precarious state of our country during the transition from the Trump presidency to Biden’s. After hundreds of interviews and thousands of pages of transcripts, the two men have finally published their inside look into the complicated circumstances in Washington.

After beginning his career as a reporter at the Washington Post, Woodward quickly found himself covering what would soon be considered one of the largest political scandals in American history. What started as a low-priority story would become life-altering. He wrote his first book with his then partner Carl Bernstein, which quickly became a best-seller across the nation. His coverage of Watergate was not only recognized nationally, but his story was transformed into a high grossing screenplay. Since then, he has continued working at the Post where he now holds the position of associate editor. Throughout his career, he has continued writing books with a focus on politics.

Costa, although considerably younger than Woodward, has also found himself having a significant impact on the political world. Also working for the Washington Post, Costa has been mentored by Woodward for years. Their collaboration on Peril shows how well these two men work together, and their dedication to sharing the truth. Costa also works as a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC, earning him a great amount of public recognition.

On Thursday, Oct. 14 both Woodward and Costa appeared as guests at Simon & Schuster’s AuthorFest event. AuthorFest aims to partner with book festivals around the world and allow readers a chance to meet and interact with their favorite authors.

“While we love an in-person book festival, we recognize that the world has shifted and there is a struggle to develop meaningful programming in real time. Simon & Schuster’s AuthorFest is an opportunity for book lovers to meet their favorite authors and discover new ones from the safety and comfort of their own worlds,” said Holly Lange, Executive Director, Mississippi Book Festival (CBS, 2021).

This event was moderated by Mindy Marques who holds the position of Vice President and Executive Editor at Simon & Schuster. Woodward, Costa, and Marques were introduced to the audience by Jonathan Karp, editor of Peril. Due to Covid, the speakers appeared over a Zoom meeting. Since this event was remote, students and educators from across the country were able to tune in and hear them speak about their experiences writing this book, as well as the importance of its contents.

Costa described Peril as being an even split between the events during Biden’s campaign, and those that occurred during the beginning of his presidency. As he reveals in the book, there was a great significance of the days leading up to the insurrection of January 6, 2020, as opposed to simply the day itself.

“We were sitting down with sources for hours on end, and we realized the story was just as much about Jan. 5  and Jan. 4 and Jan. 3 until your point about Steve Bannon, about Dec. 30. And that’s such a critical crossroads in this story, that’s when Bannon talks to trump on the phone and says, ‘we need to make Jan. 6  a reckoning, pull Pence off the ski slopes in Colorado and start to focus on trying to move this election to the House of Representatives,’” said Costa.

Costa also comments on the aftermath of this impactful day, and the changes that would continue to emerge as a result. He describes a moment in the book where the focus of Washington shifts away spending, which is typically the top priority for those involved with the government.

“While spending and infrastructure have certainly remained front and center in Washington, there’s something deeper.” said Costa, “After the insurrection, and the wake of the insurrection, even months later beyond the committee itself, there’s a feeling in Washington that Democracy is under attack.”

After a lengthy discussion about many of the political ideologies and events contained in the book, there was time for questions from the viewers to be answered. These questions were submitted upon registration for the event.

Unfortunately, there was no way for audience members to ask their questions themselves or ask questions that may have been raised during the discussion, due to the chat being closed with the goal of keeping attention on the speakers. This additionally made it difficult to gauge the reactions of the audience to what the men were speaking about. However, they were gracious enough to answer a select number of questions that had been submitted by the audience members prior to the start of the discussion.

David from Boston asked how Trump continued speaking with the men, especially after the publishing of Woodward’s last two books. These books, titled Rage and Fear: Trump in the White House shed light on a number of intimate details of the presidency, particularly ones that were not favorable towards Trump. Woodward states that he had interviewed Trump for 10 hours over a total of 18 interviews in relation to his last book Rage. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s willingness to participate in further interviews was impacted by the contents of these publication. “He declined to be interviewed for this book by Costa and myself,” Woodward said. “But when we said something a day or two ago, he tweeted.”

Another viewer, this time from San Francisco by the name of Catherine, inquired as to how the country can safeguard against an event like this from happening again. Costa, who mentioned being asked similar questions in the past, made it clear that it is not a reporter’s place to take a position on public policy. Despite this, he advised the audience on ways to immerse themselves into the political world to gain a better sense of the environment surrounding it. “The best thing to do if you’re concerned as a citizen is to read more, think more, and talk more with neighbors.” said Costa.

Simon & Schuster publishing will continue hosting similar virtual events with various authors into 2022. To find more events, visit their website https://events.simonandschuster.com.