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Mary Elizabeth Williams
The subtitle of David Brinkley's engaging, if idiosyncratic, memoir suggests both the range f the book's contents and its wry tone: 11 Presidents, 4 Wars, 22 Political Conventions, 1 Moon Landing, 3 Assassinations, 2,000 Weeks of News and Other Stuff on Television and 18 years of growing up in North Carolina. This is not so much an autobiography as a loosely organized collection of anecdotes and ruminations, and because its spare prose reproduces the distinctive cadences of Brinkley's speaking voice (is it possible to hear his name and not bring that voice to mind?) reading the book is like spending the evening in the company of an amiable, accomplished storyteller.
And he has wonderful tales to tell. As that subtitle reminds us, Brinkley, one of the most visible and influential television journalists of the past several decades, has covered or commented on most of the major events of in our recent past. What he has to say, about politicians past and present, about the political and social eruptions that have reshaped the country, about the current state of the nation, is almost always interesting, and often startling. But the book is most lively when Brinkley describes, precisely and with wit, the more peculiar features of our political system, including the increasingly odd way in which we select presidential candidates, and the memoir is most moving (and hilarious) when Brinkley recalls his "rich and pungent" boyhood in Wilmington, NC., and the hectic, improvisational nature of news reports in television's early days. -- Salon