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A Reporter's Life


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About the Author

Walter Cronkite lives in New York City and on Martha's Vineyard.


Written with wry, self-deprecating humor, Cronkite's memoir gives us the veteran TV newscaster at his most relaxed and ingratiating as he recounts dozens of his scoops: for example, tracking down and interviewing Takeo Yoshikawa, the Japanese spy who was strategic to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Daniel Ellsberg when he was in hiding after stealing the Pentagon's secret Vietnam War plans (the Pentagon Papers). Tough-minded, Missouri-born Cronkite, who apprenticed on Houston papers, has been eyewitness to, or participant in, many of the century's momentous events. As United Press war correspondent, he covered D-Day, the Allied air war and the Nuremberg trial. He joined CBS as a Korean War correspondent, and as CBS Evening News anchor for almost two decades (he retired in 1981, pushed out, he says, by a new management more interested in infotainment than substance), he reported on the civil rights movement, NASA's first moon walk, the John Kennedy assassination, freedom struggles in South Africa. Peppered with personal encounters with presidents from FDR to Nixon, plus close-ups of Nazi Hermann Göring, Douglas MacArthur, Castro, Begin and many others, Cronkite's crisp narrative charts the metamorphosis of network television into the defining medium of American consciousness. He also lets loose brickbats on the contemporary scene, bemoaning the "ridiculously small" volume of television news and the superficial quality of political coverage ("The debates are a part of the unconscionable fraud that our political campaigns have become, and it is a wonder that the networks continue to cooperate in their presentation"). Photos not seen by PW. BOMC main selection. Available on cassette and CD from Random House Audio. (Dec.) FYI: On November 4, the date this review is appearing, Cronkite celebrates his 80th birthday.

YA‘A memoir by America's foremost TV journalist. He was not a "star" anchor; rather, his workday world included reporting from the trenches of World War II and Vietnam, covering the civil rights movement, the Apollo Space Program, political conventions, and chats with presidents. Since Cronkite experienced events firsthand for the rest of the country, Americans identified with him and trusted his assessment of them. His personal accounts of the newsworthy happenings of recent decades may intrigue students of history, but the book will hold the most appeal for those interested in journalism and the media.‘Susan Abrams, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA

People who enjoyed watching Cronkite deliver the news on CBS television for many years are going to enjoy this good-natured memoir. In fact, this book will appeal to anyone who is interested in an inside view of television news operations and in stories of contacts with the movers and shakers of the world. The book is chock-full of lively stories of Cronkite's early years in newspapering and his move to radio and, quickly, to television during the Korean war. Cronkite covered many of the most important events of the past‘political conventions, the Vietnam War, the moon landing, the assassination of President Kennedy. His account of his personal life, particularly his experiences driving race cars and his switch to sailing as a more family-oriented sport, will amuse readers. Cronkite ends his book with some sobering words about the effects of the infotainment that infects much television news. Television's twisted influence on our political process so worries him that he asserts, "The major problem is simply that television news is an inadequate substitute for a good newspaper." Recommended for public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/96; see interview with Cronkite, p. 106.]‘Rebecca Wondriska, Trinity Coll. Lib., Hartford, Ct.

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