Cohen, William (1940 - )

Genre: General Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry

William S. (Bill) Cohen was born in Bangor, the son of a Jewish father -- a baker -- and an Irish Protestant mother.

He received an A.B. in Latin from Bowdoin College in 1962 and an LL.B cum laude from Boston University Law School in 1965. Cohen was a star basketball player in both high school and college.

Following his formal education, Cohen became an attorney with a Bangor law firm and Assistant County Attorney for Penobscot County from 1968-1970. He was vice president of the Maine Trial Lawyers Association from 1970-1972, entering public life as a city councilor in Bangor (1969-1972), also serving as Bangor's mayor from 1971-1972. He served as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1972-1978, then was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until he announced his retirement after 3 terms in early 1996. Democratic President Clinton appointed Cohen as his Secretary of Defense in 1997, a position he held until 2001.

Cohen married Janet Langhart Cohen on Valentine's Day 1996; she was a former runway model and a seasoned television journalist who worked as a Boston newscaster and as correspondent for Entertainment Tonight and Black Entertainment Television.

Cohen has written poetry, suspense, and non-fiction.

Selected bibliography


  • The Double Man (1985) with Senator Gary Hart
  • One-Eyed Kings (1991)
  • Murder in the Senate (1993)with Thomas B. Allen
  • Dragon fire 2006


  • Roll Call: One Year in the United States Senate (1981)
  • Getting the Most Out of Washington: Using Congress to Move the Federal Bureaucracy (1982)
  • Men of Zeal: A Candid Inside Story of the Iran Contra Hearings (1988) with Senator George Mitchell
  • Easy Prey: The Fleecing of America's Senior Citizens and How to Stop It (1995)
  • Love in black and white : a memoir of race, religion, and romance (2007)


  • Of Sons and Seasons (1978)
  • A Baker's Nickel (1986)

Selected Resources