cover image Reporter: A Memoir

Reporter: A Memoir

Seymour M. Hersh. Knopf, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-307-26395-7

The legendary investigative journalist for the New York Times and the New Yorker recalls his struggles to uncover government secrets—and get them printed—in this powerful memoir. Hersh recounts his career unearthing epochal stories, from the 1968 massacre of Vietnamese civilians by American troops at My Lai and Watergate revelations to abuses at the Abu Ghraib military prison during the Iraq War. There’s gripping journalistic intrigue aplenty as he susses out sources and documents, fences with officials, and fields death threats. His pursuit of My Lai perpetrator William Calley, which saw him barking bogus orders at soldiers and crawling through a Fort Benning barracks, feels like a Hollywood thriller. Almost as arduous are his efforts to get nervous editors to run incendiary articles while he navigated byzantine newsroom politics, especially his testy relationship with Times chief Abe Rosenthal, who emerges as a hybrid of courage and timidity. Along the way, Hersh paints pungent sketches of everyone from Henry Kissinger (“the man lied the way most people breathed”) to the “ass-kissing coterie of moronic editors” at the Times who watered down a piece on corporate skulduggery. Hersh himself is brash and direct, but never cynical, and his memoir is as riveting as the great journalistic exposés he produced. Photos. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (June)