Meet the Press host Tim Russert serves up tough questions to the likes of Ted Kennedy and Dick Cheney, but for his mom, his dad, and his Jesuit teachers back at Canisius High, he has only the kindest words. Every confirmed Russert fan will enjoy this collection of gentle nostalgic pieces about his boyhood in blue-collar South Buffalo.
Meet the newsman's father in this stupendously entertaining book. The senior Tim Russert served in WWII, married and settled in South Buffalo, N.Y., worked days for the Sanitation Department, drove a night truck for the local evening paper and raised four kids. The younger Russert's memoir begins as a tribute to his dad and the lessons he taught through the years, but also takes ample time to tell how Russert junior grew up and became the moderator of Meet the Press. His neighborhood in the 1950s was tightly knit, Irish Catholic and anchored by the institutions of marriage, family, church and school. Nuns and Legionnaires shaped young Russert's character; in high school, his Jesuit instructors strengthened and solidified it. John Kennedy's short life and career still resonated when Russert began law school in 1970. He worked on Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1976 campaign, then on the senator's staff. A friend of Moynihan provided the link that brought Russert to NBC and the Today show. He first appeared as a panelist on Meet the Press in 1990, becoming moderator in 1991. Throughout his private and public life, Russert continually turned to his father for advice, and the older man's common sense served the younger pretty much without fail. The memoir is candid and generous, so warm-hearted that readers should forgive the occasional didactic touch (and it's a soft touch). There are hard ways to learn life lessons; fortunately, readers have Russert to thank for sharing his with them. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Bob Barnett. (May 10) Forecast: Ads in the national press as well as the Buffalo News, along with TV satellite and radio drive time tours, and a 17-city author tour, should help Russert's memoir to take off. Readers of Tom Brokaw's books will enjoy it, as will dads of all ages. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Journalist Russert gives a warm tribute to his father, a Buffalo garbage man, World War II veteran, and one-man greatest generation, whose simple lessons of hard work, humility, and consideration for others guided his son through his Catholic school upbringing, his political education at the feet of Sen. Daniel Moynihan, and success as the host of TV's Meet the Press. Russert's good-natured, anecdotal style bobs amiably along at the surface of events, excitedly relating various brushes with greatness and enthusing over fried chicken, football, and faith. Although one suspects that the author might have provided a more textured reading of his own life story, David Guion's sincere tone and earnest, plain-spoken delivery serve the material well. Nothing crucial is lost in the abridgment; either version should prove popular in all libraries as an upbeat choice for multigenerational listening.-David Wright, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The gimlet-eyed interlocutor of Meet the Press is a pussycat when it comes to matters of family and faith. Russert, the kid from blue-collar South Buffalo who now grills the prominent and powerful, writes in a style as unadorned as the snow in the land of the Bills. Uncle Fran was a police detective and a great ballplayer. Big Russ, Tim's father, supported his family by driving a newspaper truck and collecting garbage; he instructed young Tim (Little Russ) in decent behavior and how to wrap trash considerately. Little Russ served as an altar boy, tended his paper route, and took a summer job on a garbage truck-he still seems to recognize garbage when he smells it, even if it's wrapped in the finest political fustian. The author fondly recalls hours with Dad at the Legion Hall, the nuns in grammar school, and his Jesuit teachers at Canisius High. In college, Tim booked speakers and entertainers for the University Club. A fan of both John F. and Robert Kennedy, he went to law school, then worked for Pat Moynihan, his intellectual father, and for Mario Cuomo. At NBC, he booked the Pope, no less, for Today before moving up to oversee the Washington news bureau and the Sunday morning talk shows. Russert offers little about the news business or his work on Meet the Press, eschewing the talking-head mode to speak from the heart in a particularly American way. (Check out the chapter titles: "Respect," "Work," "Faith," "Baseball," and "Cars," etc.) This memory piece is primarily a devoted tribute to Dad, and if Big Russ doesn't seem much different than anyone else's father, that's fine. As portrayed by his son, he's the best national Pop since Robert Young in Father Knows Best. And Little Russseems to be a pretty nice Dad himself. A largely self-effacing souvenir and a fulsome, sincere Father's Day greeting. (16 pp. photos, not seen)Author tour. Agent: Bob Barnett
"What Tom Brokaw did for South Dakota, Russert will do for Buffalo. There's only one Tim Russert, and he's got a lot of clout. [This is] the Angela's Ashes of Buffalo."--The New York Post
From the Hardcover edition.