- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Knopf (5 June 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780307263957
- ISBN-13: 978-0307263957
- ASIN: 0307263959
- Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #85,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reporter: A Memoir Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Import
|Hardcover, Deckle Edge, Import||
Special deckle edge formatThis book has a deckle edge format with distinctive, feathery edge papers. The deckle edge adds a decorative, textured edging to the book.
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A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018 | A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year
“What a story. What a life. It’s hard to read this book without a tinge of envy and a lot of admiration.” —Charles Glass, Times Literary Supplement
“A master class in the craft of reporting." —Alan Rusbridger, The New York Times Book Review
“Reporter is a miracle. . . The stories brim with humor, wit, poignancy, pointillist portraits of brilliant color—above all, [Hersh's] own voice.” —Andrew Meier, Bookforum
“One of the most compelling and significant books ever written about American journalism.” —Jon Schwarz, The Intercept
"Intimate without ever turning to confession . . . Like all good memoirs, this one shows more than it says, and is a work of conscience as well as memory." —David Bromwich, Times Literary Supplement “Books of the Year”
“[Hersh] is a classic American archetype—the lone warrior on a quest for truth and justice . . . good books about the making of journalism are few and far between, and Hersh’s memoir is a welcome addition.” —Glenn Frankel, The Washington Post
“Cinematically-detailed and warmly human storytelling that's at once reminiscent of vintage Hersh and also tonally unlike anything else he's ever written . . . Ultimately the book yields up a warts-and-all picture not just of Hersh but of an entire era of journalism.” —Steve Donoghue, Christian Science Monitor
“Riveting.” —James Bovard, American Conservative
“When it comes time for the next generation of journalists to re-discover what this job is supposed to be about, they can at least read Reporter. It's all in here.” —Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
“Hersh has been one of America’s premier investigative journalist . . . an untethered operator whose scoops have resulted from veering from the pack. Reporter offers a best-practices guide to journalism as well as an implicit critique of the way it’s practiced today.” —Michael Massing, The Nation
“The experience of reading Hersh’s memoir is like visiting a lost world . . . To put it in a callow way, this stuff is cool.” —Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic
“In Reporter, even the footnotes are priceless . . . [the book] has more juicy background, action-packed storytelling and name-drops per page than any book in recent memory, all told in straightforward style. At its center is a profane, dogged, passionate, tireless, old-fashioned reporter who brought to light schisms, coverups and outrages that informed the world.” —Claude Peck, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Reading Reporter is to be reminded of the true power of journalism.” —Lorraine Berry, Signature
"Reporter is just wonderful. Truly a great life, and what shines out of the book, amid the low cunning and tireless legwork, is Hersh's warmth and humanity. This book is essential reading for every journalist and aspiring journalist the world over." —John le Carré
“Once he catches the spoor of a My Lai, Hersh’s tracking is a model of craft and control. He bargains with sources, gains knowledge by pretending to have it, or not have it, already; sneaks around; tricks, cajoles, plays his subjects; and engages in a one-man guerrilla war against an embarrassed U.S. government. He is calculating, cold-blooded, well-behaved, and professional.” —Graeme Wood, The American Scholar
“Often reads like a case study in how to write a political thriller . . . A fascinating look at an era when quality reporting was the result of will and determination (and knowing the right contacts). An excellent choice for readers interested in late 20th-century politics.” —Library Journal
“Reporter is a captivating memoir that could inspire a new generation of journalists.” —Robert Weibezahl, BookPage
“There’s gripping journalistic intrigue aplenty as [Hersh] susses out sources and documents, fences with officials, and fields death threats. . . . Hersh himself is brash and direct, but never cynical, and his memoir is as riveting as the great journalistic exposés he produced.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Candid and revelatory . . . Compared to the contemporary field of blogs, bots, and opinion-driven reportage, the last half of the twentieth-century can look like the heyday of honest and critical journalism. But even now, Hersh remains at the vanguard of tenacious and purposeful writers who speak truth to power, and surely he’s inspiring the best at work now. Journalism junkies will devour this insider’s account of a distinguished career.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Outstanding . . . Rarely has a journalist's memoir come together so well, with admirable measures of self-deprecation, transparent pride, readable prose style, and honesty.” —Kirkus (starred review)
About the Author
SEYMOUR M. HERSH has been a staff writer for The New Yorker and The New York Times. He established himself at the forefront of investigative journalism in 1970 when he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his exposé of the massacre in My Lai, Vietnam. Since then he has received the George Polk Award five times, the National Magazine Award for Public Interest twice, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the George Orwell Award, and dozens of other awards. He lives in Washington, D.C.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Hersh tells his story chronologically, from his early days in Chicago working in his parent's dry cleaning business located in a black part of town. Living there taught him about racism; as a police reporter, he learned early that reporting on black crime victims was not as scandalous as reporting on white crime victims. Other early jobs include a stint with United Press International, The Associated Press Chicago, The New York Times, The New Yorker. He also wrote books requiring much research and subject interviews and he learned that he could get people to talk once they knew that Hersh had done his homework and researched as much as he could on a subject. He has as many critics as he has fans.
This memoir is mostly about how he got his stories, and how he learned early on not to trust the US government and CIA because both entities lied or covered up their operations, be it conducting chemical and biological experiments in the desert, covering up the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, attempting to raise a sunken Soviet submarine, plotting the assassination of a Chilean leader, conducting domestic spying on anti-war activists, allowing Pakistan to obtain nuclear parts, and other dubious actions. Hersh claims he was able to get enough high-level sources to talk because there were enough people in the government and military who were bothered by what they witnessed or were a part of.
Hersh drops a lot of names in this book, and also hands out praise as well. Many of the people he criticises have since passed on, but he admits he has some adversaries such as former Vice President Dick Cheney. He is honest with his strained working relationship with New York Times executive editor Abe Rosenthal. Hersh and Rosenthal both are temperamental, hard-driving reporters at heart who by nature are loners. His relationship with The New Yorker editor David Remnick is more cordial. Other former reporters he praises include David Halberstram, Bob Woodward, Jeff Gerth, Gloria Emerson.
Reading this memoir is like reading a summary of US History since the early part of the Vietnam War. There are revelations I never knew, like the three times President Nixon hit his wife Pat hard enough she had to go to the hospital. He spends a lot of pages on the Vietnam War, Nixon and Kissinger and dilutes the chapters as he nears his conclusion with the War on Terror.
This is a memoir about Hersh's career. He writes very little about his wife Elizabeth Sarah Klein or his son Matthew (born 1967) and daughter. He doesn't even mention his wife by name until around 100 pages toward the end, and only once. He never mentions his daughter's name. This book is dedicated to "Elizabeth" but doesn't admit that that is his wife. I know reporters tend to be secretive, but adding how his family was affected by his many assignments and travels would have given Hersh a more compassionate image.
This is a very thorough, detailed book of a fascinating career. You may not like the man's political leaning, but you have to admire his ethical reporting standards. Readers of American history will appreciate this book.
Of course, Hersh may have a habit and a preference for keeping himself out of the story, even when the story is about him, but it seems rather that what this book tells us is that his motivation for his reporting has been reporting. It's not a job disconnected from politics or morality; integral to it is pursuit of and exposure of the truth, especially in the face of powerful lies. But it's enjoyment of that work that has driven Hersh. And if it were anything else, he might not tell us. Last September I worked on planning a conference at which Hersh had agreed to speak, and he dropped out at the last minute, not wanting to be seen together with Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden, which might not have pleased potential sources -- or at least that's the reason he gave. Presumably Hersh's book, like his life, is created with one eye on pleasing the future sources who will give him what he lives for still.
Hersh writes that he didn't expect to write a memoir until he'd reached the point of being unable to work. In some senses, perhaps he hasn't written one yet. With a book that tells as much as this one, what it does not tell is not grounds for complaint, but it is what one comes away wondering about. Hersh's book is packed with statements of things that he says he promised someone years ago he would not reveal. The reader cannot know in each case whether permission was later granted, or a deal forfeited, or all obligations erased by death or merely by the passage of time. But it is striking how many times Hersh recounts keeping stories or parts of stories untold in order to please a source or an employer or out of actual agreement with a government demand for secrecy, or -- apparently -- out of a belief that some details are just too horrible to tell. What else does Hersh have, and will he ever tell us? Were he never to say another word, our complaint would remain with most of his fellow reporters and their editors and producers, about whose motivations Hersh reveals a lot more than about his own.
Hersh's book, like his previous work, names names. But this time they are the names of editors and reporters whose behavior establishes their priorities: closeness to power, U.S. exceptionalism, militarism, racism, and rivalry -- and in that order. The New York Times would rather get a story on presidential atrocities before the Washington Post, but would much rather nobody get it at all, and a story on the CIA even less, and one on the mafia less still. Hersh has followed leads that have been available to all, including the My Lai story, but nobody else wanted to follow them. There's a scene in the book where Hersh is giving a public speech and asks a randomly chosen veteran of the war on Vietnam to come up on stage, and then asks him to confirm that U.S. helicopters made a practice of diving and trying to decapitate Vietnamese farmers with their propeller blades. That kind of story was, is, and shall be sloshing around the streets of the United States for anyone to scoop up, except that most news institutions are designed not to do so.
New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal has a great many shameful moments in this book, but what I find most disturbing is the positive moment when he expresses outrage that CIA Director William Colby does not favor democracies over dictatorships. The shock! The horror! What did he think the CIA was?
Hersh found a way to work for all kinds of people, and he describes his career as happening during a golden age of journalism, explaining that this was the age before the 24-hour cable news cycle, when newspapers had lots of advertising money and reporters had lots of time. Hersh laments the way in which inaccurate stories can be made news today. Accuracy is ever his goal. But the inaccurate stories that drown out the documented outrages are not randomly selected. They're pro-U.S., anti-Russian, anti-Muslim, anti-Korean, anti-democratic stories of the sort that many journalists seem to have always longed for. That Hersh found a way to fit in with such people without being one, as a sort of permanent whistle blower, has radically improved our knowledge of what has actually been going on.