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The Last Newspaperman

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  • Posted October 15, 2012

    Wonderful and thought provoking, as well as topical

    Mark Di Ionno is an exceptionally well-regarded columnist for the Star Ledger; he has been recognized as the top NJ columnist for four of the last five years. He has written three non-fiction books about NJ that were very well received over the years (New Jersey's Coastal Heritage, A Guide to New Jersey's Revolutionary War Trail, and Backroads: Driving at the Speed of Life); all have been award-winning non-fiction pieces. The Last Newspaperman is Di Ionno's first novel. Topically, it's about the impact the tabloid media has had on the perception and coverage of news and news events. It tells this story from the point of view of a reporter named Fred Haines, a fictional character who was "on the scene" of the Lindbergh kidnapping and who broke the story. He also was instrumental in the coverage of three other major media events that were centered in NJ: the burning of the ship the Morro Castle, off the coast of Spring Lake, the explosion of the Hindenberg, and the War of the Worlds/HG Wells radio broadcast; the aliens were supposed to have landed in Grovers Mill, which is now a part of West Windsor. The way information is shaped and distorted by the media, then and now, will give us all time to ponder our individual gullibility and our responsibility to get verification of facts before we go off the deep end (see the section on the "War of the Worlds" broadcast). It is also, IMHO, a story about behavior, consequences, and redemption, while the consequences from that behavior also play out. It is about regret, lessons learned, and the ways our lives can be transformed through the lessons we learn through love. The characters are very well drawn, and the work is historically as accurate as it can be - a tribute to Di Ionno's own sense of responsibility to get information verified.

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