SCOTTY: James B. Reston and the Rise and Fall of American Journalism

John F. Stacks, Author
John F. Stacks, Author . Little, Brown $29.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-80985-6
Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-8032-9339-7
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James "Scotty" Reston ranks among the most important print journalists of the 20th century. During his 59 years of work as a reporter, bureau chief, editor, columnist and newspaper executive, he won two Pulitzers, helped build and shape the New York Times and served as a mentor to two generations of American journalists. He wrote six books, including a memoir, Deadline, four years before he died in 1995, and many thousands of news stories and columns. This fawning biography covers much of the same territory as Deadline, adding Stacks's diligent research. The author, a reporter for Time magazine, interviewed Reston's surviving colleagues and relatives and obtained the notes to a 1960 Time cover story on Reston. It's a tribute to Reston's skill and candor that Stacks's additional work turns up only mild discrepancies, such as Deadline's claim that Chen Yi, not Joseph Ku, provided Reston with the Dumbarton Oaks papers that led to his first Pulitzer. Although this book's subtitle implies tragedy, and the galley copy promises surprising scandal ("a secret history, a tale of what went on behind closed doors"), the book delivers neither. Still, this is a straightforward biography, well researched and competently written. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Dec. 5)

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