Cronkite

Cronkite

3.9 16
by Douglas Brinkley
     
 

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For decades, Walter Cronkite was known as "the most trusted man in America." Millions across the nation welcomed him into their homes, first as a print reporter for the United Press on the front lines of World War II, and later, in the emerging medium of television, as a host of numerous documentary programs and as anchor of the CBS Evening News, from 1962

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Overview

For decades, Walter Cronkite was known as "the most trusted man in America." Millions across the nation welcomed him into their homes, first as a print reporter for the United Press on the front lines of World War II, and later, in the emerging medium of television, as a host of numerous documentary programs and as anchor of the CBS Evening News, from 1962 until his retirement in 1981. Yet this very public figure, undoubtedly the twentieth century's most revered journalist, was a remarkably private man; few know the full story of his life. Drawing on unprecedented access to Cronkite's private papers as well as interviews with his family and friends, Douglas Brinkley now brings this American icon into focus as never before.

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, when 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, where he covered presidential elections, the space program, Vietnam, and the first televised broadcasts of the Olympic Games, as both a reporter and later as an anchor for 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 Kennedy assassination, Apollos 11 and 13, Watergate, the Vietnam War, and the Iran hostage crisis.

Epic, intimate, and masterfully written, Cronkite is the much-anticipated biography of an extraordinary American life, told by one of our most brilliant and respected historians.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
For anyone interested in the evolution and power of broadcast news, this book is a tremendous read, minutely documenting TV journalism's most remarkable phenomenon, Walter Cronkite. As a junior competitor in the profession and later a casual friend of Cronkite's, I thought I understood the dimensions of his legend—until I read this book…What a piece of work! Brinkley's book brings this man intimately to light, in all his petty maneuvers and all his grandeur. I gobbled up every page.
—Robert MacNeil
The New York Times Book Review
…a majestic biography of America's greatest and most beloved broadcast journalist…Cronkite is evidence that a job can be done just about perfectly. That goes for the man and this exceptional biography.
—Chris Matthews
Tina Brown
“A superb biography. . . . If only we had Walter Cronkite today.”
Janet Maslin
“Cronkite’s career has vast scope, and cumulative effect of this book is illuminating, not only about the man himself but also about the way he filtered history for a nation.”
Robert MacNeil
“A tremendous read. . . . Brinkley’s book brings this man intimately to light, in all his petty maneuvers and all his grandeur. I gobbled up every page.”
Newsweek
“A sweeping and masterful biography.”
The San Francisco Chronicle
“With the style and precision worthy of his subject, Douglas Brinkley’s biography of the late Walter Cronkite gives the icon his due. . . . A keen, fair-minded book.”
The Boston Globe
“An ambitious and deeply researched biography. . . . Cronkite magically transports the reader to a bygone era. . . . Recounted here in detail, with scholarly grasp and smooth narrative flow, are the familiar milestones and more obscure regions of Cronkite’s life.”
Newsday
“Informed, wide-ranging, clear, accessible. . . . This richly detailed and impeccably researched biography brings you into a vivid life,. . . . A thorough, even-handed and illuminating work that goes beyond image and myth about the broadcast legend for a full, frank and fascinating portrait.”
Debby Applegate
“Exhaustively researched and beautifully written, Cronkite is a classic. Douglas Brinkley has written his best book yet. This is a fascinating story that will be read for years to come.”
Walter Isaacson
“Walter Cronkite exemplified the glorious age of trusted journalism. 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.”
Michael Beschloss
“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.”
Ronald Steel
“In this absorbing and sensitively-written biography, Douglas Brinkley has captured not only the life and momentous decades of a uniquely American legend, but also the heartbeat of a nation in its times of both triumph and tragedy.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin
“This sweeping narrative of Walter Cronkite’s life is irresistibly told, beautifully written, and deeply researched. Douglas Brinkley has produced one trustworthy biography after another, each one commanding widespread respect and admiration. And this is one of the very best.”
Tom Brokaw
“The personal and professional life of Walter Cronkite is an American treasure - and we should all be grateful to Douglas Brinkley for telling it so well.”
Library Journal
We all think we know Walter Cronkite, "the most trusted man in America." But, having dug into the just opened Cronkite Archive at the University of Texas at Austin and interviewed over 200 people, from Morley Safer to Katie Couric, Brinkley should tell us much more. This one's big; with a one-day laydown on 5/29, a 250,000-copy first printing, and a seven-city tour.
Kirkus Reviews
Oversized biography of the larger-than-life newscaster, still a byword for a TV anchor, at least among viewers of a certain age. As Vanity Fair contributor Brinkley (History/Rice Univ.; The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 2009, etc.) writes, Walter Cronkite (1916–2009) was an indifferent student but a constant reader, attuned in childhood to what we would call the news, if at a different pace and intensity. It wasn't an easy childhood: Cronkite's father was an alcoholic, his parents divorced when he was young, and he grew up in the alien confines of coastal Texas, far from his prized Missouri. Nonetheless, he more than rose to the occasion, learning how to speak in a "radio voice" while still a teenager: "In true Lowell Thomas fashion, he interviewed anyone who would stand still and speak into whatever faux microphone prop he held." He also apprenticed at the Houston Post, learning how to write a lean news story, and he had a forward-looking habit, sensing that wire stories were going to be replaced by man-on-the-ground coverage and that television, when it arrived, would surpass radio and other media. Brinkley is very good on Cronkite's early distinction as a war correspondent in World War II under the influence of Edward R. Murrow. The author also gives Cronkite credit for being out ahead on certain stories, such as gay rights, the collapse of the Vietnam War and Watergate. He hints that Cronkite could be a touch prickly and sensitive--for one thing, about his lack of a college degree--but the author doesn't press that far enough; one wants to know more about the enmity between Cronkite and Dan Rather, for example. For all the book's weight, Brinkley, a dutiful and plodding writer, skimps here and there where he should not. The great correspondent and Cronkite-colleague Richard Threlkeld, for instance, gets but a single passing mention. Still, the best portrait of Cronkite--that legendary journalist, certainly worthy of a big biography--that we have.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062196637
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/29/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
864
Sales rank:
202,488
File size:
5 MB

What People are saying about this

Ronald Steel

“In this absorbing and sensitively-written biography, Douglas Brinkley has captured not only the life and momentous decades of a uniquely American legend, but also the heartbeat of a nation in its times of both triumph and tragedy.”

Walter Isaacson

“Walter Cronkite exemplified the glorious age of trusted journalism. 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.”

Michael Beschloss

“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.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin

“This sweeping narrative of Walter Cronkite’s life is irresistibly told, beautifully written, and deeply researched. Douglas Brinkley has produced one trustworthy biography after another, each one commanding widespread respect and admiration. And this is one of the very best.”

Debby Applegate

“Exhaustively researched and beautifully written, Cronkite is a classic. Douglas Brinkley has written his best book yet. This is a fascinating story that will be read for years to come.”

Tom Brokaw

“The personal and professional life of Walter Cronkite is an American treasure - and we should all be grateful to Douglas Brinkley for telling it so well.”

Read More

Meet the Author

Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University, the CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Audubon. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him “America’s new past master.” His recent Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is a member of the Society of American Historians and the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three children.

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Cronkite 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Dr_Wilson_Trivino More than 1 year ago
As a child of the 1970s when I think about Walter Cronkite, I don’t really remember seeing him broadcast the news on television. I have watched countless replays and reports on this iconic figure but he seems to me more of as a familiar great uncle. I did meet him once and he came across as that crazy uncle everyone has, who is full of stories that revolve around him. In Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley, it gave me a new perspective on this newsman. He came to be in an age of the new world of television. What I found fascinating is that many of the criticism of television reporting in the day are the same that you hear about the new journalism on the internet. That these news bits are superficial, they are not real reporting, and that anyone now can call themselves a reporter. What you learn in this book is that Cronkite was a make no waves kind of guy. The kind that everyone liked, he had a knack for sharing the events of the day in an easy conversational style. This boy from middle America could connect and until this day still holds the title the most trusted man in television. If he said it, it must be true, you could take his word to the bank as the old maxim goes. Cronkite also was a part of the greatest generation the ones that tried to do the right thing and a precursor to the “me” generation that we live in today. Cronkite covered the great stories of his day, the assassination of President Kennedy, the space race, and world events. As Brinkley masterfully does in his writings he takes you into his world, as if you were a fly on the course of his life. You feel closer to this distant uncle and wish you would have been more appreciative of him while he was still around. Maybe he wasn’t as crazy as you thought. A quick read, Cronkite takes you back to a simpler time where the world was not so noisy with information overload and America was the shinny city on the hill. A good read for fans or those who want to learn more about this gentleman from Middle America.
NewsieQ More than 1 year ago
About 15 years ago, I read Walter Cronkite’s autobiography, A Reporter’s Life, and was extremely disappointed in it. It seemed a superficial and half-hearted attempt at chronicling his life. That may be due to the fact that I read his autobiography about the time I read Personal History by Katharine Graham, an autobiography which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998. Personal History was an amazing book, meticulously researched and sourced, and insightful. A Reporter’s Life suffered in comparison. When I saw that a real historian was writing a biography of Uncle Walter, I bought it right away. I was NOT disappointed. While it is not an “authorized biography,” Cronkite’s children were helpful to the author, and wanted a complete story of their father told, warts and all. And there are a few warts. Although I figured there was no love lost between Cronkite and his successor as CBS anchorman, Dan Rather, it appears that Cronkite detested Rather – and was elated when Rather’s career crashed and burned over some very sloppy reporting about President George W. Bush and his not-so-illustrious career in the Texas Air National Guard during the Viet Nam era. Cronkite is an engaging work of history by an academic who doesn’t write like one. And even with all the “warts” revealed, the book’s subject still comes out looking like a hero. Douglas Brinkley also evokes superbly the times during which Cronkite was a working journalist – World War II, the Kennedy assassination, the Cold War, the NASA space program -- and sheds light on the people Cronkite worked with and reported on. Cronkite is over 800 pages, heavy enough to serve as a doorstop, but well worth the time it takes to read and absorb it.
OlyDan More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a very well written and intersting book. Since I don't care for "celebrity" biography, I was a bit concerned at first. But this book is anything but that. As a person who enjoys works of historical biography, I was not disappointed. Brinkley is an excellent writer and Cronkite a very intersting man. A very good book showing the growth of TV media, as well as the intersection between TV media and popular culture. Highly recommend this book.
Fly2husker More than 1 year ago
I grew up in this era and remember Cronkite's Apollo broadcasts as a small boy. Very interesting to know how TV News started and what it has become today. Great read!
RevP More than 1 year ago
I especially liked the historical picture of CBS news and the workings of the press during world and national events and news anchor struggles with management.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very detailed description of Walter Cronkite's life. Great overview along with the details of Mr. Cronkite's early life and a great description of the anchorman years. Probably a bit too much gossip description or interactions about Dan Rather, Barbara Walters and other competitors involved in the journalism field. But all-in-all a great book too read on an individual who was so well known, trusted and part of 20th Century America.
glauver 7 months ago
n 1979 the great David Halberstam wrote a masterful book about the media called The Powers That Be. I don't know if anyone has written a worthy update. Douglas Brinkley tried, using CBS anchor Walter Cronkite as his subject. The biography is interesting but somehow misses being everything it could be. Cronkite's long career paralleled the rise of TV news; perhaps Brinkley should have focused on his active years with CBS from the 50s to the 80s. A lot of space devoted to Walter's long retirement might have been more profitably used in deeper analysis of Vietnam and Watergate coverage. Brinkley can be critical of Cronkite, but he seems unable to pinpoint exactly why the TV news anchor is no longer the oracle he (or she) once was. He also seems overly critical of Dan Rather, ignoring the fact Rather was CBS Evening News anchor longer than Cronkite.
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Simply an outstanding book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book that provides details of Walter Cronkite's rise to the CBS news editor/anchorman and his passion for unbiased news reporting.
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