In one of the most anticipated books of the year, Lee Woodruff, along with her husband, Bob Woodruff, share their never-before-told story of romance, resilience, and survival following the tragedy that transformed their lives and gripped a nation.
In January 2006, the Woodruffs seemed to have it all-a happy marriage and four beautiful children. Lee was a public relations executive and Bob had just been named co-anchor of ABC's World News Tonight. Then, while Bob was embedded with the military in Iraq, an improvised explosive device went off near the tank he was riding in. He and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, were hit, and Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed him.
In an Instant is the frank and compelling account of how Bob and Lee's lives came together, were blown apart, and then were miraculously put together again-and how they persevered, with grit but also with humor, through intense trauma and fear. Here are Lee's heartfelt memories of their courtship, their travels as Bob left a law practice behind and pursued his news career and Lee her freelance business, the glorious births of her children and the challenges of motherhood.
Bob in turn recalls the moment he caught the journalism "bug" while covering Tiananmen Square for CBS News, his love of overseas assignments and his guilt about long separations from his family, and his pride at attaining the brass ring of television news-being chosen to fill the seat of the late Peter Jennings.
And, for the first time, the Woodruffs reveal the agonizing details of Bob's terrible injuries and his remarkable recovery. We learn that Bob's return home was not an end to the journey but the first step into a future they have learned not to fear but to be grateful for.
In an Instant is much more than the dual memoir of love and courage. It is an important, wise, and inspiring guide to coping with tragedy-and an extraordinary drama of marriage, family, war, and nation.
A percentage of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury.
From the Hardcover edition.
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February 27, 2007
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Excerpt from In An Instant by Lee Woodruff
Orlando, Florida, January 28, 2006
There is a ride at Disney World called the Tower of Terror, and on the weekend of January 28, 2006, my four children, even the twin five- year-olds, begged me to go on that ride over and over again.
Housed in a re-created aging Hollywood hotel, the ride begins where you climb into a creaky elevator that snakes its way through the creepy premises. An electrical storm kicks up, and right on cue something goes wrong with the power. The elevator in the eerie hotel suddenly drops. The descent is so rapid, so sudden, that it almost sucks your diaphragm up into your throat, and right before the drop there is a moment where you are literally suspended in air, too stunned to scream. It feels as if speed, motion, light, and time literally freeze.
We must have taken that ride a half dozen times. And then the feeling returned the following morning as I rolled over in my king-sized hotel bed. The day before, the kids and I had been to the Animal Kingdom in Disney World. We'd marveled at the African safari ride, ridden rapids in Asia, and gotten soaked as we howled our way down the man-made white water. After an early dinner we'd rented a pedal bike with another family and laughed until we cried as we raced other bikers around the lake, while fireworks from Epcot exploded overhead.
Tucking four kids into bed that night, I silently congratulated myself on a good weekend. I'd come to Disney to shoot a pilot TV show for Family Fun. We'd spent two days on set and then the rest of the time had been the kids' reward: combing the parks for Disney character autographs for the twins and thrill-seeking rides for the older two. We'd planned to fly back home on Sunday and get ready for school.
Toting around four children by myself was not new. That weekend my husband, Bob Woodruff, the newly anointed co-anchor of ABC's World News Tonight, was thousands of miles away in Iraq. We spoke to him briefly that day, in between the safari and the rapids ride. He and his crew had had a tiring day covering the Palestinian elections before flying on to Baghdad in advance of President Bush's State of the Union address. The plan was to bolster ABC's Iraq coverage at an important moment in the war. The pace was blistering, common to any foreign correspondent who must keep moving and file stories from faraway places in time zones eight to twelve hours ahead of our own.
Bob and his crew were operating on an aggressive schedule with only a few hours' sleep each night. As usual, the itinerary was punishing. Get in, get the stories about the Iraqi military, anchor from Baghdad during Bush's address, do some pieces for Good Morning America, and, on the way back, try to finalize an interview with the King of Jordan in Amman, the Jordanian capital.
Our conversations with him from Disney World had been short and tough. The cell service in Iraq was spotty and the time difference was frustrating. We had one conversation midday Saturday, as he and his crew were going to bed in a military compound somewhere in Baghdad. He exhaustedly mumbled something about getting much-needed sleep the next day. Exactly what he said didn't register with me at the time. My daughter Cathryn was determined to buy a puka shell necklace. With my shoulder cradling the cell phone, I negotiated some cash from my wallet while keeping an eye on the twins, who were dangerously close to a fence in front of a bamboo grove.