A Reporter's Life

by Walter Cronkite

Hardcover, 1996

Collection

Description

4 cassettes / 4 hours Read by the Author Also available on CD He has been called the most trusted man in America.  His 60-year journalistic career has spanned the Great Depression, several wars, and the extraordinary changes that have engulfed our nation over the last two-thirds of the 20th century. When Walter Cronkite advised his television audience in 1968 that the war in Vietnam could not be won, President Lyndon B. Johnson said: "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America." Here is Cronkite's remarkable autobiography: his growing up in Kansas City and Houston; his service as a war correspondent for United Press; his plunge into television when it was still an infant industry; his rise to anchorman of The CBS Evening News and its eventual dominance of the airwaves.  Here is Cronkite covering space shots, political conventions, a coronation, the assassinations of the Kennedys and King.  Here are Cronkite's portraits of presidents, his behind-the-scenes tales of politics and broadcasting, his vigorous views on the future of television and the presentation of news.… (more)

Rating

(73 ratings; 3.7)

User reviews

LibraryThing member mellonhead
Interesting, but surprizingly not very well written. Lots of ranting about how he felt, or how he feels currently about social issues, decline of journalism and society.
LibraryThing member carterchristian1
I read this twice to really take it in because Cronkite skips around a lot. This is not arranged in clear chronological order. However the second read was worth it. Cronkite's life spanned the introduction of radio, television and finally the Internet. He had an opportunity to have sometimes very long interviews with most of the presidents since Roosevelt and gives good opinions of them. Two observations really grabbed me that are well worth repeating (as this book has no index).

Today looking at Afghanistan his observations on the Vietnam War are worth repeating

When not to send troops

page 265 Ballentine Books paperback

"A corrupt, incompetent, unpopular government that we were committeed to support"
"An allied army that often preferred not to fight"
"A resourceful dedicated enemy resolved to struggle on regardless of casualties"

then there is also an early view of Cheney's attitude toward disclosure of vital information to the press

page 267

"Richard Cheney delayed tghe press call-up with full knowledge as he put it until it was too late to cover the crucial five hours of the invasion (Grenada).

In summary I would say this is a vital book to an understanding of the presidency in the last half of the 20th century as well as a vital history of the development of communications during that period.

Much of what even in 1996 the author has to say about the decline of responsible journalism in all forms (he speaks of one newspaper readings, of the move from information to entertainment)that is now increasing.
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LibraryThing member burnit99
I grew up getting a good portion of my news from Walter Cronkite. The chief impression one gets from his on-air style is one of trust: You want to believe that he's telling you what he knows to be true. To the extent that you can believe an autobiography, that impression is borne out here, although he does admit to a couple of peccadilloes in the early days of his radio career that would get any newbie fired nowadays. "Uncle Walter" comes across here as an earnest man who takes journalism and its responsibilities seriously. The self-deprecating style here shows an occasional amusement that middle America takes him just as seriously. Of most interest to me was Cronkite's recollections of the major stories that he and his team informed America about, many of which I remember seeing him report. Being in elementary school, I missed his announcement of JFK's death; now I'll have to find it online. Cronkite wasn't above using his influence to shape the news. His negative comments about the course of the Vietnam war helped influence LBJ's decision not to seek re-election. And he was instrumental in getting Anwar Sadat to sit down and talk peace with Menachim Begin. Cronkite was a giant of American electronic journalism who contributed, albeit with regret, to the dominance of TV news over newspaper reporting. And he seems like a genuinely decent man, worthy of the trust that America bestowed upon him every night for years.… (more)
LibraryThing member tarliman.joppos
Absolutely brilliant. Clear, lucid prose recounting some of the great turning points in history by a man who was there. Fare thee well, Walter; your kind is not seen but once in a generation.
LibraryThing member dickmanikowski
Entertaining and illuminating memoir of the reporter often said to be the most trusted man in America. Walter Cronkite was an old-school journalist, trained in the daily newspaper school of hard knocks before moving on to jobs in the newswire service, radio, and television. Along the way, he gained experience in areas as diverse foreign correspondence (spending a couple of years in the Moscow bureau during the early years of the Cold War) to the early days of network morning television (when he regularly discussed current events with a lion puppet operated by Bill Baird).
If it happened in the 60's, 70's, or early 80's, Cronkite covered it. The space race, the JFK assassination, the Vietnam war, Watergate, political conventions.
Cronkite's memoirs are modest (though sometimes a tad smug) and revealing.
Perhaps the most valuable portion of the book are its final pages, when he analyzes the gradual erosion of both broadcast and print journalism. He acknowledges the damage done by the increasingly cutthroat attention to the bottom line and the rise of the infotainment phenomenon.
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LibraryThing member jimmaclachlan
Fantastic. Cronkite was an icon & actually lived up to his reputation. A fantastic reporter with real integrity. I was sorry this was abridged, but it was still really good.
LibraryThing member christinejoseph
very good info — until end — a few sour grapes

He has been called the most trusted man in America. His 60-year-long journalistic career has spanned the Great Depression, several wars, and the extraordinary changes that have engulfed our nation over the last two-thirds of the 20th century. When Walter Cronkite advised his television audience in 1968 that the war in Vietnam could not be won, President Lyndon B. Johnson said: "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."… (more)
LibraryThing member trdsf
Breezy and conversational, if not actually chatty. It's a whirlwind tour of the life of a newsman the likes of which we have never more desperately needed than we do right now.

The only flaw is that there were several events in his career that he seemed to touch on briefly that I would have liked to have seen expanded on, particularly his coverage of the space program, of which he was an unabashed admirer.

All in all, though, a fast and fascinating read.
… (more)

Publication

Knopf (1996), Edition: 1st, 384 pages

Original publication date

1996

Pages

384

ISBN

0394578791 / 9780394578798

Language

Original language

English
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