"'The Back Page' is a terrific read," in the words of John Lane, who began his career in journalism in Chicago before moving on to executive positions at CNN, CBS News, and NBC News. "It is an insider's tribute to a great American newspaper, the Chicago Daily News and its colorful and gifted reporters and editors."
Many of those editors and reporters had come out of the Twenties era of Chicago journalism so memorably captured in the classic Broadway play "The Front Page" -- which played its role in giving a title to this book about events not in a press room but a city room two decades later.
The time is the last year of World War II, with all its historic events and headlines -- when the author is a copygirl and young staffer -- then moves on to the post-war years, offering personal glimpses of both the historical figures of the time -- President Harry S. Truman, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral William F. "Wild Bull" Halsey, Vice President Alben W. Barkley, Senator Robert A. Taft, Governor Adlai E. Stevenson -- and those who shone on the stage and screen -- Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Jimmy Durante, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Andy Williams, Esther Williams, Mike Wallace, Gertrude Lawrence, Lena Horne, Marlene Dietrich, Burt Lancaster, Cecil B. DeMille, Claudette Colbert, Pat O'Brien, Jane Russell, Rosalind Russell, Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin.
There are anecdotes. One-liners. Up close glimpses of the famous ... and the legends, in the newspaper business and show business.
Many of these come out of press parties. Some out of press conferences. Including the press conferences for the press club the author created and directed -- a press club of editors of the high school, community college, and college newspapers in the Greater Chicago area.
Her memo requesting a press conference with President Harry S. Truman when he came to Chicago was sent on to The White House, the press secretary sending it in to the President, who accepted.
The press conference with President Truman is believed to be the first -- and may still be the only -- formal press conference ever granted student newspaper editors by a sitting President of the United States.
The President more than doubled the amount of time alloted the students, and, back out in the hotel corridor as he was leaving, he was heard to remark that it was one of the stiffest press conferences he'd ever had, that, in fact, "some of the White House boys could take a few pointers from the kids."
At the student press conference with General Dwight D. Eisenhower the following year, it was in answer to a student's question that Ike publicly revealed for the first time the greatest decision he had to make during the war.
The history that unfolds in these pages is laced with humor. It weaves through the historic events and historical figures as the reader goes behind the scenes of a great metropolitan newspaper -- in the day to day work of covering a metropolitan city's events -- expected and unexpected -- and the drama of breaking, eight-column headline stories.
As Steve Reiss, Enterprise Editor of The Washington Post, put it, "[It] ... captures why anyone would work in these dirty, loud rooms with a deadline always hanging over your head: because it's so much damn fun."