Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom

Carl Bernstein. Holt, $29.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-62779-150-2

Pulitzer Prize winner Bernstein (All the President's Men) looks back at his early days as a reporter, before his Watergate reporting made him a household name, in this entertaining memoir. With wry humor, he describes his apprenticeship "in the newspaper trade from ages sixteen to twenty-one." Though his poor grades and record as a juvenile delinquent made it seem that "the odds were against my ever amounting to much," Bernstein recounts how in 1960, with the help of his father, he got an interview at the now defunct Washington Star. Thanks to his persistence and charisma, Bernstein secured a job there as a copyboy and moved rapidly up the ranks. He amusingly recounts going from covering local stories to reporting on major political events—such as the fledgling Kennedy administration—all while juggling the mundanities of high school: "Now that I had covered the inauguration of the president of the United States," he recalls, "Mr. Adelman's chemistry class interested me even less." Just as enthralling are his quaint recollections of growing up in D.C., at a time when being raised there felt "akin to living in a small town that also happened to be the capital of the United States." Admirers of this remarkable journalist will find much to love in this charming account. (Jan.)