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As it happens, I went to Colgate University with the Woodruffs and knew Lee in passing--she worked at a local bar--and Bob a bit better. We were in rival but friendly fraternities and our classes became especially friendly when we spent a Summer term on campus.

One quick story: the following February my house hosted a Tropical Party. Winter in central New York is oppressive and we thought it would be fun to serve beach drinks and then send someone to the Bahamas at midnight. We told everyone to wear shorts and flowered shirts and bring a suitcase, then we held a drawing and sent the winner and a friend on a trip we paid for. At any rate, after helping to mix the cocktails for the party--in enormous garbage cans--I was outside by the raging bonfire, greeting guests as they trudged through the snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures. Woody and a few other guys came rolling up and somehow or another we ended up fire-walking.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I woke up the next morning with huge blisters on my feet. When I saw Woody a few days later I asked if his feet were a mess too and he said: "Nah, I was wearing work boots. I was surprised you did it in flip-flops...."

If you'd asked folks who knew him then, they'd have told you he seemed the sort of guy who could walk through a bonfire and not get hurt. Bob is smart, handsome, personable and was one of the great athletes in Colgate history. A few years later when he started turning up on New England News Network, I was surprised to see him--he'd not pursued journalism at school--but he was such a natural fit the profession seemed inevitable. From there it was no time before you saw him on ABC News, then on the weekend newscast, and then came the announcement that he was taking over as ABC Nightly News anchor. It wasn't just a case of golden boy makes good, but one of those instances where success comes to someone you absolutely think deserves it.

Then, in January 2006, while embedded in Iraq, it all went bang, literally and figuratively. Bob and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, were caught in the explosion of an I.E.D.. The attack nearly killed him and did cause a serious brain injury. This book relates the story of Bob's ongoing recovery, but at its center is Lee's story of how she coped with the ordeal and with the demands of raising young children at the same time.

Both partners get to speak, but it is really Lee who bears the narrative weight. Her tale of fears, frustrations, victories, setbacks, and all the rest is immensely engaging and quite often moving. There's a certain degree to which war no longer effects the middle/upper-middle class much anymore and the Woodruffs' story obviously isn't any more tragic than that of the average wounded soldier and his family just because we know the victim in this case. But they are a family that most readers will recognize as having great similarities to their own and if Lee Woodruff can speak to us on behalf of the many, as well as on behalf of herself and her family, then all the better. And if their story ends--though it continues, too--much more happily than many others, well, there's something to be said for happy endings too.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Bob Woodruff Links:

    -Bob Woodruff (Wikipedia)
    -BOOK SITE: In An Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing (Written Voices)
    -BOOK SITE: In an Instant (Random House)
    -SHOW SITE: ABC News: Woodruff Reports: From Iraq and Back
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Bob Woodruff (
    -Bob Woodruff Family Fund
    -ABC News: Bob Woodruff (ABC News)
    -AUDIO: Colgate University Commencement (Bob and Lee Woodruff, May 20, 2007)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Bob Woodruff (Here and Now, 4/24/2007)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Their First Interview Together: Reporter Bob Woodruff and His Wife, Lee (Oprah Winfrey, 2/27/07)
    -PROFILE: Anchor Away: ABC News' Bob Woodruff is the public face of traumatic brain injury — the untold legacy of the Iraq war. (Charles M. Young, March 2008, Men's Vogue)
    -PROFILE: Bob and Lee Woodruff Marriage Profile (Sheri & Bob Stritof,
    -PROFILE: Home Again : Last January, World News Tonight anchor Bob Woodruff sustained a life-threatening brain injury after the army vehicle he was riding in was attacked by insurgents in Iraq. In this intimate interview, Bob and his wife, Lee, talk about his long recovery. (Robert Zeliger, 3/29/07,
    -PROFILE: Struggle for words frustrates Woodruff (Christine Dugas, 2/24/08, USA TODAY)
    -PROFILE: Recovering From Injury, Returning to TV, Speaking for the Wounded (JACQUES STEINBERG, October 25, 2007, NY Times)
    -PROFILE: ABC's Bob Woodruff: 'It's a Miracle I'm Alive' (Sharon Cotliar, February 28, 2007, People)
    -PROFILE: A Firsthand Report on the Wounds of War (Howard Kurtz, 2/27/07, Washington Post)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Bob Woodruff and Wife Pen Recovery Memoir (Morning Edition, February 28, 2007, NPR)
    -ARTICLE: Bob and Lee Woodruff offer graduates tactical tips for real world (, May 20, 2007)
    -AWARD: Bob Woodruff '83 receives prestigious award from NCAA (Tim O'Keeffe, January 14, 2008,
    -AWARD: ABC's Bob Woodruff Wins Pearl Award (AP, April 10, 2008)
    -ARCHIVES: Bob Woodruff News (The New York Times)
    -ARCHIVES: "bob woodruff" (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing by Lee Woodruff & Bob Woodruff (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of In an Instant (Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of In an Instant (JAMA)
    -REVIEW: of In an Instant (Barbara Bamberger Scott, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of In an Instant (Dennis Lythgoe, Deseret Morning News )
    -TV REVIEW: Woodruff and his wife tell his — and their family's — story of healing (Florangela Davila, Seattle Times)
    -PROFILE: ABC newsman Bob Woodruff and his wife, Lee, are working to help others in the wake of his miraculous recovery (JOHN MARSHALL, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Book-related and General Links: