— Russell Baker
"He was free of the woeful predictability of ideologues of both the left and the right."
— Elizabeth Hardwick
"In presenting his segments of history Kempton uses the technique of the novelist—and it comes off brilliantly. He succeeds in evoking the characters of the men and women he writes about, and he does what only the good novelist can do: he re-creates the atmosphere of the time in which they functioned and so forces the reader to inhabit a world which may be alien, dimly recalled, or long forgotten."
— The Nation
"Kempton’s book is exceedingly well written. It holds us in some places with a pathos of futility and in others with a drama of achievement….He does much to set in perspective an episode and a period that has been long distorted. The richness and pungency of his style make him easy to read."
— The New York Times
One of our finest journalists, Kempton was always something of a cult writer, revered by his peers but lacking the profile of a Jimmy Breslin or Garry Wills. A tabloid columnist who looked like a classics professor (he was rarely without his pipe), Kempton—first at the New York Post, then at Newsday—forged one of the most distinct, if not eccentric, styles in American journalism….His column always promised a strange, pleasurable experience: Pungent yet decorous, invariably teeming with rogues and scoundrels, corrupt pols and indicted capos, Kempton’s pieces often read like a Damon Runyon sketch rewritten by a Victorian man of letters.