Front Row Seat: A Veteran Reporter Relives the Four Decades That Reshaped America

Murphy Martin, Author Eakin Press $29.95 (270p) ISBN 978-1-57168-813-2
It's a slim hook for a book: in the early 1960s, Martin, a Dallas native and local television newsman, met a character named Jack Ruby. By November 1963, Martin had moved on to New York to anchor ABC's national broadcast, but in the days following the Kennedy assassination, he was rushed back to his home town, where he covered the ongoing story. Those dramatic weeks and months open Martin's memoir of his career as a journalist and political adviser. Martin presents his own professional and personal take on the familiar characters connected to JFK's murder. At times the recollections provide a fresh perspective--e.g., besides the priest, Martin was the only other man present at the christening of Marina Oswald's daughter Rachel, becoming her godfather by default. Although the Kennedy material seems long and unremarkable save for these redeeming touches and the chapter on the Ruby trial, the section on Ross Perot is quite compelling; it provides a true insider's take on his character, public and private, and his campaigns, corporate and political. The book's last half darts at hummingbird pace over Martin's professional and personal memories of presidents from Truman to George W., then over remembrances of nonpresidential public figures--John Wayne, Mickey Mantle, Chet Huntley, Howard Cosell, among others--and closes with his opinion on the liberal-or-conservative media bias controversy. Kennedy assassination buffs and Perot fans should appreciate this book; it's written by someone who knows how to sort out facts and shape them into stories.
Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 12/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
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