Cronkite

( 16 )

Overview

For decades, Walter Cronkite was known as "the most trusted man in America." Yet this very public figure, undoubtedly the twentieth century's most revered journalist, was a remarkably private man. Drawing on unprecedented access to Cronkite's private papers as well as interviews with 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 and...

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Overview

For decades, Walter Cronkite was known as "the most trusted man in America." Yet this very public figure, undoubtedly the twentieth century's most revered journalist, was a remarkably private man. Drawing on unprecedented access to Cronkite's private papers as well as interviews with 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 and World War II, to his coverage of presidential elections, the space program, Vietnam, and the first televised broadcasts of the Olympic Games. Cronkite was also 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 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
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
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 New York Times Book Review
“A majestic biography. . . . Cronkite is evidence that a job can be done just about perfectly. That goes for the man and this exceptional biography.”
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.”
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.”
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: 9780594486831
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Pages: 832
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 2.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University, CBS News Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him "America's new past master." Seven of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year 2012. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children. Brinkley has been awarded honorary doctorates from Trinity College (Connecticut), University of Maine, Hofstra University, and Allegheny College, among many others.

George Guidall is one of the foremost narrators in the audiobook industry, having recorded over 500 unabridged books ranging from classics to contemporary bestsellers. He is the recipient of the 1999 Audie Award presented by the Audio Publishers Association for the best narration of unabridged fiction.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I The Making of a Reporter

1 Missouri Boy 15

2 Houston Youth 33

3 Learning a Trade 55

4 Making of a Unipresser 87

Part II The Second World War

5 Gearing Up for Europe 111

6 The Writing Sixty-Ninth 140

7 Dean of the Air War 171

8 Gliding to V-E Day 192

9 From the Nuremberg Trials to Russia 219

Part III Cold War Broadcaster

10 Infancy of TV News 237

11 Election Night and UNIVAC 262

12 Mr. CBS Utility Man 285

13 The Huntley and Brinkley Challenge 302

14 Torch Is Passed 331

15 New Space Frontier on CBS 367

Part IV Anchorman

16 Anchorman of Camelot 399

17 The Kennedy Assassination 438

18 Who's Afraid of the Nielsen Ratings? 475

19 Paley's Attempted Smackdown 506

20 Civil Rights and Project Gemini 540

21 What to Do About Vietnam? 568

22 The Tet Offensive 614

Part V Top Game

23 Calm and Chaos of 1968 651

24 Mr. Moon Shot 684

25 Avatar of Earth Day 713

26 The Nixon-versus-CBS War 740

27 Reportable Truth in the Age of Nixon 769

28 Fan Clubs, Stalkers, and Political Good-byes 812

29 A Time to Heal 851

30 Live with Jimmy Carter 880

Part VI The Spokesperson

31 Retirement Blues 921

32 Struggling Elder Statesman 959

33 Defiant Liberal 993

34 "The World's Oldest Reporter" 1033

35 The New Millennium 1069

Epilogue: Electronic Uncle Sam 1107

Acknowledgments 1127

Biographical Glossary 1150

Notes 1171

Author's Interviews 1404

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 1, 2012

    The most trusted man

    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.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    I found this to be a very well written and intersting book. Si

    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.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2012

    An engaging work of history by an academic who does not write like one

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    Outstanding

    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!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2012

    Very interesting even though it is very long.

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2012

    The news from the other side of the pen

    I have read ½ of the book so far. My father was a political journalist and much of his journey in journalism was very similar. I like that the book is not just about Walter Cronkite, but also touches on many of the others in the field. I knew of all them, as my father was only 5 years older than Walter Cronkite, and was a journalist and in Washington DC. I am enjoying the insider’s view of the adventures of life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2012

    Fantastic time capsule

    Simply an outstanding book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    Excellent Read

    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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    Posted August 18, 2013

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    Posted June 2, 2012

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    Posted February 21, 2013

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    Posted July 28, 2012

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    Posted September 15, 2013

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    Posted June 29, 2012

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    Posted June 2, 2012

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