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Ronald Kessler Biography

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of

Kessler is also The New York Times best-selling author of 17 non-fiction books. Kessler began his career as a journalist in 1964 on the Worcester Telegram, followed by three years as an investigative reporter and editorial writer with the Boston Herald. In 1968, he joined the Wall Street Journal as a reporter in the New York bureau. He became an investigative reporter with The Washington Post in 1970 and continued as a staff writer until 1985.

Kessler has won 16 journalism awards, including two George Polk Awards � one for national reporting and one for community service. He won the top prize for business and financial reporting given by the Washington chapter of the Sigma Delta Chi society of professional journalists. Kessler has also won the American Political Science Association's Public Affairs Reporting Award, The Associated Press' Sevellon Brown Memorial Award, and Washingtonian magazine's Washingtonian of the Year award. He is listed in "Who's Who in America."

Kessler's first book was The Life Insurance Game," an expos� of the life insurance industry published in 1985. His second book, "The Richest Man in the World: The Story of Adnan Khashoggi," is the inside story of the world's pre-eminent arms dealer. Kessler's next book, "Spy vs. Spy: Stalking Soviet Spies in America," is the only book on the FBI's secret counterintelligence program and contains the first interview with Karl Koecher, a Soviet bloc spy who became a mole in the CIA.

Kessler's fourth book, "Moscow Station," is about the security breaches at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, the involvement of U.S. Marines, and the resulting investigations. Kessler's "The Spy in the Russian Club: How Glenn Souther Stole America's Nuclear War Plans and Escaped to Moscow" is the bizarre tale of one of America's most damaging spies who defected to the Soviet Union and committed suicide there.

Kessler's sixth book, "Escape from the CIA: How the CIA Won and Lost the Most Important KGB Spy Ever to Defect to the U.S.," is about the defection and re-defection of KGB officer Vitaly Yurchenko from a restaurant in Washington's Georgetown section. It contains the only interview with Yurchenko by a western journalist and portrays the CIA's disastrous mishandling of the case.

Kessler's "Inside the CIA: Revealing the Secrets of the World's Most Powerful Spy Agency," depicts what the CIA really does and was the only book about the agency written with the CIA's limited cooperation.

For Kessler's eighth book, "The FBI: Inside the World's Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency," the FBI gave Kessler unprecedented access to the bureau. The book revealed for the first time the defection of Vasili Mitrokhin, whose notes from the KGB's archives disclosed the existence over the years of hundreds of spies in the U.S. The book is the authoritative work on the modern FBI, and its findings led to the dismissal of William Sessions as FBI director over his abuses.

Having probed the CIA and FBI, Kessler was prepared to take on the modern White House. "Inside the White House: The Hidden Lives of the Modern Presidents and the Secrets of the World's Most Powerful Institution" depicts what the presidents and first families are really like and how the White House really operates, as seen by the Secret Service, Air Force One stewards, and White House aides and residence staff who know the true story.

Kessler's 10th book, "The Sins Of The Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded," is the first major biography of Joe Kennedy in more than 30 years. Based in part on the only interview ever given by the surgeon who performed the lobotomy on her, the book reveals that for political reasons, Joe Kennedy covered up the fact that his daughter Rosemary was mentally ill rather than retarded, as the family has long claimed. The book documents payoffs Kennedy made to win the presidency for Jack. And it reveals an affair with his Hyannis Port secretary that lasted nine years � three times longer than his affair with movie star Gloria Swanson.

In many ways, Congress is even more powerful than the president. Only Capitol Police officers, doormen, elevator operators, pages, professional staffers, and members of Congress themselves know what goes on behind the scenes and how Congress really works. For Kessler's 11th book, "Inside Congress: The Shocking Scandals, Corruption, and Abuse of Power Behind the Scenes on Capitol Hill," more than 350 such insiders talked for the first time. The book lifts the dome off the Capitol and suggests how Americans can take back their government by electing decent, honorable people.

A 3.75-square-mile island, Palm Beach is known as the most wealthy, glamorous, opulent, sinful spot on earth. It is home to billionaires like Donald Trump, trust fund babies, women addicted to staying beautiful, and the sophisticated "walkers" who escort them. Kessler's "The Season: Inside Palm Beach and America's Richest Society" follows four characters through the season: the reigning queen of Palm Beach society, the night manager of Palm Beach's trendiest bar and restaurant, a gay "walker" who escorts wealthy women to balls, and a knockout gorgeous blonde who says she "can't find a guy in Palm Beach." Bit parts are played by Trump, who flew with Kessler and his wife on Trump's Boeing 727-100 to spend a weekend with them at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, and Gianna Lahainer, who is worth $300 million but put her husband on ice because he died inconveniently in the middle of the season.

After the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court, no American institution is as powerful as the FBI. Yet until Kessler's "The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI," no book had presented the full story of the FBI from its beginnings in 1908 to the present. The book is the definitive account of the FBI, revealing its strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and blunders, methods and secrets. The book focuses on the directors who have run the bureau, from J. Edgar Hoover through Louis Freeh and Robert Mueller, and the agents who have made its cases. "The Bureau" reveals the dramatic inside story of the FBI's response to the attacks of Sept. 11 and why the FBI was unprepared for those attacks. The book documents Freeh's colossal mismanagement of the FBI and how Mueller is restoring the bureau to its place as the world's pre-eminent law enforcement agency.

With the CIA at the core of the war on terror, no agency is as important to preserving America's freedom. Yet the CIA is a closed and secretive world � impenetrable to generations of journalists � and few Americans know what really goes on among the spy masters who plot America's worldwide campaign against terrorists. For Kessler's "The CIA at War: Inside the Secret Campaign Against Terror," the author obtained unprecedented access to the CIA. The book explores whether the CIA can be trusted, whether its intelligence is politicized, and whether it is capable of winning the war on terror. In doing so, the book weaves in the history of the CIA and how it really works. It is the definitive account of the agency.

Kessler's next book, "A Matter of Character: Inside The White House Of George W. Bush," is a complete biography and inside look at how Bush and his secretive White House really operate. For the book, Kessler interviewed all the key players � Andy Card, Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice, Al Gonzales, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld � supplemented by interviews with Bush's close personal friends, Secret Service sources, and other insiders. Based on extraordinary access approved by Bush himself, the book demonstrates that much of what appears in the media about Bush is mythology.

Kessler's 16th book, "Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady," is the first to penetrate the secret world of this famously reserved woman and reveals the tremendous influence she has on her husband and his administration. The only book to be written about Laura Bush with White House cooperation, it draws from interviews with lifelong friends, family members, and administration heavyweights like Condoleezza Rice and Andrew Card, who talked about the first lady in-depth for the first time. The book reveals how Laura's opinions have resulted in budget changes for a range of federal agencies and have affected her husband's policies, appointments, and world view.

Kessler's latest book, "The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack," presents the chilling story of terrorists' relentless efforts to mount another devastating attack on the United States and of the heroic efforts being made to stop those plots. Drawing on unprecedented access, the book takes readers inside the war rooms of this battle for our survival � from the newly created National Counterterrorism Center to FBI headquarters, from the CIA to the National Security Agency, from the Pentagon to the Oval Office � to explain why we have gone so long since 9/11 without a successful attack and to reveal the many close calls we never hear about.

"You make a mistake, there are dead people," FBI special agent Art Cummings, head of international counterterrorism operations, says.

The book pinpoints press leaks that have resulted in CIA agents' deaths, caused foreign countries to stop cooperating on key investigations, and even tipped off Osama bin Laden to U.S. surveillance. It includes a stunning insider's account from the FBI agent who spent seven months secretly debriefing Saddam Hussein after his capture. From Saddam's compulsive hand-washing and use of baby wipes to his strategy during the 2003 invasion, why no WMD were ever found, and his plans for developing a nuclear capability, the debriefings unravel mysteries and provide insights about one of the greatest mass murderers of our time.