Reporting contains a rich assortment of twenty-three essays, all essentially personality profiles. In the book's preface, Remnick describes his method: "The pieces collected here--all written for The New Yorker, where I have worked since 1992--attempt to see someone up close, if only for a moment in time." Attempt is the key word. Remnick admits his interest in profiling people who seek to shape their public image and control what any writer (and reader) learns about them. Each essay is an account of a struggle between Remnick, who is seeking understanding and access, and (usually) a powerful or famous person, who only wants the public to have access on his or her terms.
As a former newspaper reporter with experience on beats ranging from police to politics to sports, Remnick is well equipped for this task. He wields all the tools of good journalism--observation, interviews, research, and writing strong sentences--to construct lengthy and riveting pieces of narrative nonfiction. His essays always embody what David Halberstam used to call "density"; Remnick clearly has more material and knowledge than he weaves into his finished pieces, which he crafts to present his readers with the most truthful portrait of the person he has managed to uncover. But when necessary, as in a favorable profile of Katharine Graham, Remnick can be as blunt as any editorial writer: "the demand for unreasonable profits is undermining the quality of American journalism."
The essays in Reporting are arranged into five untitled sections, which might be labeled as domestic politics and media, literary intellectuals, Russia, Israel and Palestine, and boxing. Since David Remnick is one of the remaining standard-bearers for the long article, the essays are educational feasts for the curious mind. "The Democracy Game: Hamas Comes to Power in Palestine" should be on the reading list of anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of power, hatred, and faith in the Middle East, and the profiles of Vaclav Havel, Vladimir Putin, and Mike Tyson are fascinating.
Armchair Interviews says: This book is highly recommended for readers who enjoy well-written profiles of interesting people.