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Yours in Truth: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee Hardcover – 15 Jul 2012
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"The absolute best nonfiction book of the year . . . a work of journalistic art . . . history straight and true . . . should be required reading at the Columbia School of Journalism."--"Chicago Tribune" "A fairly complete and rare portrait of this last of the lion-king newspaper editors . . . deftly curates previously published material, boring in on the newly revealed and revealing, ultimately creating the best Bradlee biography we're likely to get."--"The New York Times Book Review" "Surprising and compulsively readable . . . Himmelman's chapters on Watergate are especially masterful, untangling that web in a fresh and comprehensible way."--Minneapolis "Star Tribune" "A sparkling, revealing, definitely controversial, and very readable book . . . highly amusing, particularly for any connoisseur of juicy modern American politics."--"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" "The bold brilliance of Jeff Himmelman's "Yours in Truth" comes through because it is not simply a biography of a quixotic figure who changed the timbre of American newspapers. Rather, it is also a riveting history lesson with fastidiously researched facts intertwined with first-person observations."--Charleston "Post and Courier" "Embedded in "Yours in Truth" there are fundamental insights about journalism and the role of a dynamic press."--"The Atlantic" "The biographer either sells his soul for the cozy dinners or bails for the truth. Himmelman chose the latter."--The Huffington Post "Riveting new life of one of America's greatest editors."--The Daily Beast
About the Author
Jeff Himmelman has worked on two national bestsellers, Bob Woodward's "Maestro" and Tim Russert's "Big Russ & Me, " and was the co-author of "A Different Life" with Quinn Bradlee. He has written for "The Washington Post "and" The New York Times Magazine;" his work with Woodward and a team of other reporters helped "The Post" secure the national reporting Pulitzer Prize for its post-9/11 coverage. He is also a professional musician who writes, records, and performs under the name Down Dexter. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
I approached the book expecting to find the topic relevant given my professional life, but I really had no idea how totally enthralling the material would be. Himmelman took me on a complete journey through history, through emotions, and, most importantly, through Ben Bradlee's life. I am now dreaming about Bradlee's life and legacy, and I've only just begun to internalize the many lessons he teaches us about how to live life, how to lead, and how to stand up to power (even once you become part of the establishment). I know that I learned so very much, but it was so breezy along the way! I've never had such a pleasant experience reading a non-fiction biography.
I highly recommend this book, not just to journalism junkies like me, but to anyone looking for an enjoyable, enlightening read. But be prepared that once you start reading, you won't want to put it down. Kudos to Himmelman for this beautiful, personal portrait, as the subtitle very accurately advertises.
Himmelman's writing is polished and intelligent. I was drawn in as much by his authorial voice - by turns, intimate, straightforward, defensive, and funny - as I was by his narrative about Bradlee's life. And what a life it has been! Himmelman has excavated some fascinating nuggets about Bradlee and presents them beautifully. Only a couple of times did I find my attention wandering during yet another section about how cool & charming Bradlee is.
The section in Yours in Truth that caused such a stir revolves around Himmelman's presentation of two very interesting disclosures about Bradlee and his ace reporters, Woodward and Bernstein. The first revelation centers on Himmelman's discovery of proof that Woodward and Bernstein lied when they claimed that they never used a Watergate grand juror as a source in their Watergate reporting (the female juror is referred to as "Z"). Himmelman played sleuth, and it's nifty to read how he arrived at this revelation.
To my mind, the second revelation is less startling and perhaps less important, unless you're Bob Woodward: it involves Bradlee's admission to another biographer/interviewer in the early 1990s that he, Bradlee, had some wisps of doubt - "residual" unease - about minor details in Woodward's account in All the President's Men of his interactions with Deep Throat (spy-craft touches like Woodward's placing of a red flag in a potted plant outside his apartment when he wanted a meeting with Deep Throat AND Deep Throat's setting of a meeting time by drawing a clock on an inside page of Woodward's the New York Times).
To repeat, these details struck me as fairly minor in the grand scheme of Watergate and the WashPo's coverage of it. Bradlee has never, ever, given any indication that he questioned the veracity of Woodward's general reporting. But Himmelman has a sharp eye and plumbs Bradlee's quote about the "residual" unease to yield a heretofore unacknowledged truth about Bradlee.
Sometimes it's the tiny details - the stray comment, the white lie or lingering doubt, the seemingly insignificant action that may not line up neatly with the general narrative arc of someone's life - that say something important about an individual. In writing a biography of Bradlee, Himmelman draws our attention to the fact that when you get right down to it, human personality and individual experience are pretty murky regions.
As some readers may already know, Himmelman's decision to include these and a few other tidbits effectively torpedoed his relationships with Woodward as well as Bradlee and Sally Quinn. I can understand why they were infuriated. But I have to say that as a reader, I'm grateful for Himmelman's instinct toward fuller, rather than lesser, disclosure.