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Moyers on America: A Journalist and His Times Paperback – 14 Jun 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; Reprint edition (14 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400095360
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400095360
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,008,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Legacy of a champion journalist---and a great storyteller 20 Jun. 2004
By William Kowinski - Published on
Format: Hardcover
After a half century of journalism, Bill Moyers is retiring at year's end. There has been no other broadcast journalist like him, and unfortunately it's unlikely there will be again. American television journalism does a notoriously poor job covering the arts, culture, science, humanities---in fact, ideas of any kind, and certainly of any complexity. Yet Bill Moyers was perfectly comfortable questioning Senators, foreign diplomats, and philosopher Martha Nussbaum, playwright August Wilson, and physicist Murray Gell-Man. His interviews with Joseph Campbell and Robert Bly changed the cultural landscape, and just last year his coverage helped stir public outrage which stopped the FCC from allowing media conglomerates to absorb even more news outlets.
Moyers made two significant detours in his journalistic journey: an early stint at a Baptist seminary, and several years working in the White House for the man who'd given him his first broadcast journalism job at a tiny Texas station, Lyndon Johnson. The impulse that led to each, and the experience gained, gave his journalism a rare richness. Viewers responded to his integrity and authenticity, and the courage behind the smile---also rare. All of these are on display in this collection taken from talks and commentaries, along with historical perspective and informal reminiscence too informative and entertaining for prime time.
Moyers'words in this book on the dangerous trends of celebrity journalism and conglomerate control should be required reading for young journalists, if not all citizens. His evaluations of his private and public past will be equally useful and inspiring to readers who have grown up with him. This is a penetrating yet companionable volume, from an exemplary journalist who says he still believes, and still doubts.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A Man of Our Times 12 July 2006
By Edwin C. Pauzer - Published on
Format: Paperback
One thing when you get when you read Bill Moyers is a man who speaks from his soul. This journalist and minister laments the disappearance of a free and diverse press being taken over by conglomerates that filter our information with a singular point of view.

He is a populist who believes that our elected representatives are supposed to represent the people who vote for them, not the corporations who give contributions to them. In any other place that is called bribery. In Congress, it is called a contribution.

Equally disconcerting to Moyers is his perception that Americans no longer thirst for the news and the political decisions that affect their lives on a daily basis. Americans care less even about the information that is filtered to them.

I was unable to connect some of the experiences he wrote here to his central theme, but I was always able to imagine the words on the page being spoken by the man with a calm, reassuring voice, the same man who received more than thirty years of Emmy and other awards for outstanding journalism.

Naturally, there is always someone like Bernie Goldberg who saw fit to place this patriotic American and gentleman on his list of 100 people who are ruining America. But, it took no time to feel good again. All I had to do was consider the source. (You don't make comparisons between a Goldberg and a Moyers.)

Read Moyers, watch Moyers every time you can. National treasures are hard to come by.
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
I Wish Moyers Had Written More! 6 Sept. 2004
By H. F. Corbin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Historians will be kind to the gentle but passsionate Bill Moyers and will rank him as one of our best journalists, both for his skill and integrity. Here he has collected some of his speeches and commentaries--they range in time from the 1970's to the present--about some of the things he cares about deeply: democracy, politics corrupted by money, the costs of war, the possibility of people with diverse religions living in harmony, integrity in journalism. Mr. Moyers also writes about growing up in the Southwest and gets personal about friendship, growing old and dying. He is right-- though not to the right-- on a lot of things here. His essay on why he has worn the flag in his label is one that someone needed to write. He is totally correcct. How about his description of Baptists when he compares them to jalapeno peppers? ". . .one or two make for a tasty dish, but a whole bunch of them together in one place brings tears to your eyes." And that slaveholder Thomas Jefferson wrote it right but "lived it wrong."

Mr. Moyers also includes an insightful chapter on President Johnson, reminding us of all the good things he did for this country-- Medicare, Medicaid, federal aid to education, the right of blacks to citizenship-- before he slipped into the great hole called the Vietnam War. I was so touched by Mr. Moyers' chapter "Where The Jackrabbits Were", that I read it twice. When the author was born in 1934 his father was earning $2 a day working on the construction of a highway from the Texas border to Oklahoma City. He describes the difficulties that the Moyers family and their neighbors had with little money and no doctors. Moyers makes it clear that he is not trying to idealize his past. About his father Moyers writes: ". . .a seventy-year old man who has buried four of his five children doesn't extol the good old days. . ." For me, that's the most poignant sentence in the entire book. Is there any question why Mr. Moyers is unhappy about the way our country is currently going?

If you have ever caught Mr. Moyers on PBS-- and if you haven't, you probably won't be reading this-- you can hear his voice with that accent he never completely lost coming through, one of the pleasures of reading this book. I often find books of this nature repetitious and too long. That is not the case here. I wish Mr. Moyers had written more.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A man who loves his country and his craft 5 Jan. 2005
By Jason Cooper - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Whether or not one agrees with his conclusions, it's hard to deny that Bill Moyers loves his country and his craft. This volume is a series of his speeches, pieces for television, and other writings, which have been edited for the book. Nearly every page sparkles with his love of democracy and the people who depend upon it.

The book is divided into four parts, the first two concentrating on the nation and the questions America faces in a new era. While the author devotes a lot of time to the war in Iraq, especially in Part One, he also writes passionately about the loss of good jobs and the lack of aid available for families who fall on hard times.

His critique of the media is solid, as Moyers has worked in the field since the 1950s. His essay "Making of a Journalist" traces his beginnings as a cub reporter at a small Texas newspaper. Elsewhere the author condemns the mega-mergers and vested interest of the modern corporate media, noting their silence during the reforms of the Telecommunications Act in 1996.

But while the author decries the trend toward corporate media domination, he isn't overly sentimental about the past. During his days as a cub, there was virtually no coverage of blacks in the paper, even though they represented half of the town: "Only white people counted in those days," he writes, "only their doings were considered newsworthy. What blacks did, felt, and thought never made the paper."

His final chapter, "Looking Back," is most revealing. Here we get a sense of the influences that have shaped the man. His piece "Where the Jackrabbits Were" tells of going home to East Texas to spend time with his father. Life was very rough there, especially during the Depression years. The essay gets its title from his uncle's story about eating rabbits when there is nothing else. The author's father wants to be a farmer but has to give it up because he simply can't make enough money. He has to take construction jobs, or whatever work he can find. His family has no ready access to health care in the early days, and lose two of their five children to illnesses.

Clearly, it is life experiences like these that have informed Moyer's passions, from his role in the creation, and later production, of public television, to his calls for campaign finance reform. In his piece "Wearing the Flag," he recalls his decision to put a flag pin on his lapel. In blasting the proponents of the Iraq war, he asserts that the flag "belongs to the country, not to the government."

At the very least, one has to agree that he's consistent. Moyer's is a progressive message that's all about returning power to the people.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Moyers Speaks for All of Us 25 Aug. 2004
By Constant Weeder - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Moyers, Bill, Moyers on America. New York: The New Press, 2004.

Subtitled, "A Journalist and His Times," the book consists of a series of TV columns and speeches worked into essay form. All of it is worth reading, but the parts I liked best were the fiery defense of the Constitution, the unmasking of reactionary politicians as inhumane and proudly mean-spirited--"they narrowly defined membership in democracy to include only people like them"--and the comparison of today's politics with the struggles of the Progressives in the 1900-1920 era, after which FDR denounced "economic royalists" for what they were. Moyers' point is that the rich have no right to buy democracy. The politicians of terror "win only if we let them, only if we become like them: vengeful, imperious, intolerant, paranoid, invoking a God of wrath." "Mencken got it right when he said, "Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it." He denounces the consolidation of the media into a handful of plutocratic oligarchies. A statement that has stayed with me, because he repeated it during a book-signing in June 2004, was "No man is fit to be a master."

"The fight between the human scale and the giant scale--between the master and the governed--left unresolved by the Progressive Era, is returning for some kind of epic confrontation." Today our liberties are threatened by the punishment of criticism and the distaste for variety or dissent. Our government is a study in bribery, conflicts of interest, corruption, and is awash in money from private interest groups.

The media has turned to celebrity journalism, speed over accuracy, opinion over reporting, and this in turn is the result of concentrated ownership. (A panel of anchormen at the Democratic 2004 Convention admitted that they hadn't asked enough questions before validating the Bush move for war against Iraq.) "The job of telling the truth about people whose job it is to hide the truth is almost as complicated and difficult as trying to hide it in the first place." A "deep and pervasive corruption has settled upon the republic." Moyers calls this a "cynical age."

The rest of the book relates episodes from Moyers' youth, a tribute to cultural literacy, liberal arts education, and contemplations about religion (he is an ordained minister).

In sum, the book is an eloquent denunciation of the imperial state now in the hands of

those with the Top Secret stamp all over government actions. It also includes a tribute to I.F. Stone, and a tip of the hat to poetry, which formed the basis for one of Moyers' PBS series. Describing an auto trip he made with his elderly father, he writes, "A later afternoon sun the size of a prospector's imagination was hanging in the sky as we drove out to their old farm." A nice postscript.
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