Overview

Peter Jennings was the sole anchor of ABC's World News Tonight from 1983 until his death from cancer in 2005. For many Americans, he was the voice and face that gave shape and meaning to every day's news. But who was Peter Jennings really? In this absorbing biography, readers will get to know Jennings through the memories of his friends, family, competitors, colleagues, and interview subjects. Their stories are full of surprises. Jennings, we learn, was a high school dropout who spent the rest of his life in ...
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Peter Jennings: A Reporter's Life

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Overview

Peter Jennings was the sole anchor of ABC's World News Tonight from 1983 until his death from cancer in 2005. For many Americans, he was the voice and face that gave shape and meaning to every day's news. But who was Peter Jennings really? In this absorbing biography, readers will get to know Jennings through the memories of his friends, family, competitors, colleagues, and interview subjects. Their stories are full of surprises. Jennings, we learn, was a high school dropout who spent the rest of his life in pursuit of knowledge. He traveled the world in search of stories, a notebook perpetually thrust through his back belt loop. In his front pocket, he carried a miniature copy of the Constitution, a testament to his love for the United States; a Canadian by birth, Jennings acquired American citizenship in 2003.

Peter Jennings was a celebrity, of course—a dashingly handsome and elegant man, famous for his ability to charm women and world leaders alike—but in these pages he is remembered as a loyal friend and a devoted family man, who loved nothing more than to canoe with his kids and listen to jazz with his friends in the Hamptons. Not that he was the relaxing sort. Jennings was a task-master, who ripped other reporters' pieces to shreds, forcing them to rewrite from the ground up. He was a perfectionist, too, who drove his fellow correspondents crazy with his ad-libbed questions on the air. It was all about standards. Throughout his life, Peter Jennings was driven by a passion to seek the truth and convey that truth accurately, simply, cleanly, and elegantly to his American audience. He was our voice.

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Editorial Reviews

Pahrump Valley Times
A very good lauding of [Jennings's] life and his work...news junkies and current-events mavens will enjoy.
Publishers Weekly

The bulk of the interviews in this oral history-co-edited by Sherr, his colleague at ABC News, freelance book editor Darnton, and Jennings's widow-were conducted in the days immediately following the anchorman's death from lung cancer in August 2005. Friends and fellow reporters retrace every step of his career, starting with his first jobs in Canadian radio to his coverage of major events like the 9/11 attacks. When he was just 26, he was hired by ABC to anchor the evening news, a job he himself would later admit he was "simply unqualified" for at the time. So he demanded to be sent out into the field as a foreign correspondent, building up his experience until he became what Ted Koppel calls "a complete package" as a journalist: smart, attractive and graceful under pressure. The tone of the interviews is predictably positive: even the criticism that he allowed ABC's ratings to slip by refusing to devote more airtime to O.J. Simpson's murder trial is immediately followed by praise for his expanded coverage of the Bosnian genocide. Sections on his personal life along with testimonials from statesmen like Bill Clinton and Colin Powell flesh out the portrait, reminding readers of the commanding presence Jennings held over broadcast journalism. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

This account of the life of a longtime anchor of American evening news was culled largely from interviews conducted for a televised remembrance of Peter Jennings, which aired shortly after his death in 2005. Presented verbatim, the material comes from Jennings's colleagues, friends, and family members and is arranged into a handful of loose themes with little added information or research. As such, the work is more akin to an extended eulogy than a biography. Indeed, the editors themselves, among them Jennings's wife, Kayce Freed Jennings, make no claims that this is an exhaustive examination of the man's life. Some of the anecdotes, such as, for example, assertions that Jennings was unhappy with TV coverage of the Iraq War, would have benefited tremendously from supporting evidence. All told, this is a lively collection of stories about one of television's most successful newsmen, told by those who loved and respected him. Some stories are touching, some funny, and a handful provide insight into how his personality was a natural fit for TV news. Fans of Jennings will appreciate the effort.
—Fred Baerkircher

Kirkus Reviews
A warm tribute to the Canadian high-school dropout who anchored ABC's World News Tonight for 22 years. Based on interviews, this oral history gathers the voices of more than 60 colleagues, friends, family members and others who fondly recall the handsome and charming Jennings (1938-2005). The Toronto-born son of a noted radio broadcaster in Canada, Jennings quit school, worked in a bank and then joined an Ottawa TV station, where his newscasts caught the eye of the struggling ABC network. In 1965, at age 26, he became anchor of the network's nightly newscast, competing with stalwarts Walter Cronkite at CBS and Huntley and Brinkley at NBC. As recounted here, Jennings's ABC career was an education in both journalism and American culture that turned the pretty-boy neophyte into a first-rate reporter who worked hard to make complex issues understandable to viewers. Sent from his premature anchor post into the field, he learned his craft during 15 years as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East and elsewhere, returning as ABC's nightly anchor in 1983. Darnton (a freelance book editor), Kayce Freed Jennings (a documentary producer and Jennings's wife at the time of his death) and Sherr (an ABC News correspondent) artfully intersperse the journalist's own words with those of others, from Lauren Bacall to Rudy Giuliani to Al Sharpton, to create bright, readable vignettes of Jennings covering the Munich Olympics, presidential campaigns, 9/11 and more. Interviewees recall a sweet, down-to-earth man and a broadcaster of elegance and grace who could be a demanding perfectionist, editing and revising copy moments before going on the air and insisting on the simplest, most direct way to tell astory. Readers who watched Jennings faithfully over the years will enjoy behind-the-scenes views of this charismatic autodidact who became, in Cokie Roberts's words, "the voice of civilization" on television. Jennings not only learned to stop saying "shedule," he fell in love with America and became a citizen shortly before his death. Evocative glimpses of a sorely missed class act.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586486327
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 12/10/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,281,269
  • File size: 5 MB

Table of Contents


Introduction   Lynn Sherr     9
Contributors     15
A Canadian Childhood     31
Boy Anchor     55
The Talking Trench Coat     81
Roving Anchor     131
Flying Solo     159
Making the News     195
World News Tonight     255
Enthusiasms     319
September 11     367
The Man     389
Citizen     443
"I Have Lung Cancer"     469
Legacy     499
"Finally, This Evening..."     517
Acknowledgments   Kayce Freed Jennings     521
Notes     527
Chronology of Peter Jennings' Life     545
Selected Documentaries and News Specials     549
Photo Credits     555
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012

    Peter!!

    what more can anyone say... he will always be missed. Must be a Peter Jennings devotee for this read.. teared up several times. An anchor in my life and my family, that's for sure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2007

    What The Evening News Didn't Show You

    If you ever watched Peter Jennings on the news, you probably summed him up as a non-emotional, very bright guy who was cooler than that proverbial cucumber. Reading this book makes you realize quickly your judgment was wrong two out of three times. But whose to say a book is right, anyway, especially one featuring the subject¿s family and cohorts? Because I knew Peter pretty well away from the newsroom (we played together and served on a couple of boards together), my judgment could be skewed, too. But I doubt it. Reading this book for me¿and probably for anyone who actually knew Peter¿hurt at times because the stories of Peter¿s irreverence and drop-dead humor ring so true. A Reporters Life is like an excellent sixty-second newscast: all the ephemera are stripped away and the very essence of the story is left. You get that with this book, the essence of Peter. And unless you¿re from another planet, you also get this: a regret that you didn¿t know him better. For those of us who knew Peter pretty well (and there were tens of thousands of those¿Peter would befriend a rock out of his innate kindness and curiosity¿we regret we didn¿t have just one more visit with him. So, that¿s what this book is: a lot of visits with Peter that ring true, and ring most interesting and revealing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2007

    Mr. Jennings' Own Story is finally told.

    What better way to be remembered than through the words of your friends and collegues! This excellent book tells Mr. Jennings story in a unique way. Best of all, his comments on his own journey are included. For those of us fortunate to have met him, this book will bring a smile and a tear. Wonderful, rare pictures make this book complete. Remembering Mr. Jennings' way of 'telling the story' is quite evident in this book. Easy to read and quite entertaining, this book makes an excellent gift for any Peter Jennings fan. MJS Houston, Tx

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    Peter Jennings: A Reporter's Life is for everyone who watched Peter Jennings on the air and wants to know more about him. What was he like to work with? What went on behind the scenes at ABC News? Did he ever let his hair down? Was he difficult to work with? What was he like as a husband and father and friend? What values and principals did he live by and impart to his family, colleagues, protégés? The book manages to weave a narrative from compelling first-person anecdotes that put the reader right into Jennings' incredible life and drive, and tells us that when he was dying he did not feel sorry for himself because he knew he had lived life well. I loved reading the frank accounts from a wide range of people, well-known and not, including excerpts from his children's moving eulogies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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