Compiled by the U.S.News & World Report library staff
1. Michael Chertoff was born on Nov. 28, 1953, in Elizabeth, N.J. His father, Rabbi Gershon Chertoff, was the head of a Conservative synagogue. His mother, Livia, was a homemaker who also ran a local art gallery for a time.
2. After studying at private schools in New Jersey, Chertoff went on to Harvard, where he majored in history. He has said he "drifted" through his undergraduate years, but he received his degree magna cum laude and studied at the prestigious London School of Economics for a year.
3. Chertoff was a standout at Harvard Law School, serving as editor of the Law Review and, in 1978, graduating magna cum laude once again. He made an impression on his classmate Scott Turow, who used him as the inspiration for two characters in his book "One L." He based a scene in which a student has a two-day argument with a professor on a real-life exchange Chertoff had.
4. One of Chertoff's early bosses was Rudy Giuliani, who hired him in 1983 to serve as an assistant U.S. attorney for New York's Southern District. He had such success in prosecuting members of the Mafia there that convicted boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno reportedly said Chertoff owed him a "thank-you note" when he received a promotion.
5. At age 36, Chertoff became one of the youngest U.S. attorneys ever when President George H.W. Bush named him to head the New Jersey office. In 1993, the incoming Clinton administration asked him to remain in the job to finish some important prosecutions. He was the only Bush appointee who was asked to stay, which he did for another year.
6. From 1994 to 1996, Chertoff served as Republican counsel to the Senate's Whitewater investigation into the Clintons' business dealings. He was nicknamed "the vulture" because of his tough questioning of White House staff.
7. In 1996, Chertoff campaigned for Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole.
8. Chertoff has said that he does not like to use E-mail. Instead, he relies on his staff to verify information and give him updates.
9. Since 1988, Chertoff has been married to fellow Harvard Law graduate Meryl Justin. They have two children.
10. Chertoff is an avid runner and enjoys kayaking. He's a fan of the television program 24 and once told a reporter that he would love to play a prosecutor on The Sopranos. He likes to read true-crime books (especially about cases he was involved with) and also enjoys reading history and biography.
The New York Times
The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)
The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.)
U.S. News & World Report