Adam Bernstein was born in the Bronx and grew up mostly in semi-rural Connecticut. While attending the Hotchkiss School, he won first place in a national high-school playwriting festival for a one-act comedy. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He worked at the Bakersfield Californian, covering cockfighting ("residents are crying foul about crying fowl") and other news stories, the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk and the Gazette in Montgomery County, Md., before joining The Post in 1999. He was stationed on the TV Week section before he enthusiastically made the jump to obits. He wanted desperately to follow in the footsteps of his journalism hero, Robert McG. Thomas Jr., now-deceased obit legend at the New York Times. Bernstein occasionally writes other features. One led to the reprinting of Roger Hall's comic memoir of World War II espionage, "You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger."