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Curtis WilkieYoder's strength is in his allegiance to old-fashioned journalistic verities, in his abhorrence of the political bullies who increasingly rule the op-ed pages and the airwaves.
— The Washington Post
A Pulitzer Prize--winning editorialist and a former syndicated columnist, Edwin M. Yoder Jr. spent forty years as a newspaper journalist. Telling Others What to Think, he writes, is about "an education in its broadest sense," the experiences and personal influences that formed him.
Yoder became a full-time editorial writer at the early age of twenty-four, and he traces his aptitude for punditry to the southern storytelling tradition, a long family heritage of scholars and schoolteachers, and his father's being "opinionated" -- in the better sense of that word. Journalism, Yoder says, was a way to be a writer and still put bread on the table, and throughout his career, he would excel as a prose craftsman.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill -- where he edited the Daily Tar Heel -- he studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and then returned to his home state, a place celebrated for lively newspaper editorial writing. First at the Charlotte News and then at the Greensboro Daily News, Yoder took on the Birch Society and segregation, among other targets. Throughout his memoir, he credits unbidden good fortune -- rather than any planned path -- with shaping his destiny. The call to go to Washington, D.C. -- a "Mecca for journalists" -- as editorial page editor of the Star was more good luck in Yoder's view. He won a Pulitzer at the Star in 1979, and when that paper folded in 1981, he joined the Washington Post Writers Group as a syndicated columnist. For fifteen years his column appeared in many major regional newspapers around the country and abroad in London and Paris.
In his book, Yoder is most compelling when describing the pleasures and hazards of maintaining professional and social relationships with people in the arena of politics and public life -- including Washington Post editorial page editor Meg Greenfield, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, writer and editor Willie Morris, and Georgetown University president Father Timothy Healy. Circumspect, forthright, and generous in his reflections, Yoder the man and the pundit prove to be the same. An appendix presents a portfolio of his past columns, sage advice to the aspiring opinion writer, and thoughts on the tabloidization of news in recent years.
A rich and intriguing personal story of someone whose job it was to comment on the events of the day, Ed Yoder's Telling Others What to Think speaks eloquently as well of the wider world of American politics and culture.
|A preface : that David Copperfield business|
|A racial education||27|
|Clerk of Oxenford||63|
|Meg Greenfield and the perils of punditry||145|
|Lewis Powell : a Washington friendship||167|
|App||A portfolio of columns||219|