Monday, May 14, 2012

And That's The Way He Was: CRONKITE by Douglas Brinkley

For decades, Walter Cronkite (1916-2009) was known as “the most trusted man in America.” Millions across the nation welcomed him into their homes each evening, first as a reporter from the frontlines of World War II, then later, in the emerging medium of television, where he hosted numerous documentary programs and anchored the CBS Evening News until his retirement in 1981. Yet this very public figure, undoubtedly the 20th-century’s most revered journalist, was a remarkably private man; few know the full story of his life. Based on access to Cronkite’s private papers as well as interviews with his family and friends, in CronkiteDouglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University, shines the spotlight on this American icon that will be of interest to students of journalism and mass media, as well as aficionados of masterful biography.

Brinkley traces Cronkite’s story from his roots in Missouri and Texas, through the Great Depression during which he began his career, to World War II, where he gained notice reporting with Allied troops from North Africa, D-Day, and the Battle of the Bulge. In 1950, Edward R. Murrow recruited him to work for CBS as both a reporter and later anchor of the evening news. Cronkite was also witness to—and the nation’s voice for—many of the most profound moments in modern American history, including the assassination of John F. Kennedy (see video below), the NASA space missions of Apollo 11 and 13, the Watergate break-in scandal, the Vietnam War, and the Iran Hostage Crisis.

Praise for Cronkite:

“Douglas Brinkley’s absorbing and well-researched book recaptures the high solstice of American television journalism and the man who most exemplified that moment. It also illuminates, behind the scenes, a Walter Cronkite that millions of Americans thought they knew, but, as Brinkley’s book now shows us, didn’t.”—Michael Beschloss

“Walter Cronkite exemplified the glorious age of trusted journalism, and rightfully so. He was a sensible and decent man. In this deeply researched and brilliantly analytic biography, Douglas Brinkley captures his essence. He treats Cronkite as not just an icon, but as a real human with passions, loves, and occasional enmities. It’s a fascinating and valuable tale.”—Walter Isaacson

“This sweeping narrative of Walter Cronkite’s life is irresistibly told, beautifully written, and deeply researched. It is hard to imagine a better match for ‘the most trusted man in America’ than Douglas Brinkley, who has produced one trustworthy biography after another, each one commanding widespread respect and admiration. And this is one of the very best.”—Doris Kearns Goodwin

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