Books by Mickey Herskowitz

Released: Nov. 1, 2003

"An invaluable personal account that fleshes out history."
Texas Governor John Connally's wife, who was also in the car when President Kennedy was shot, makes a slender but valid contribution to the assassination story. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 17, 1994

The CBS anchorman tells of his globe-trotting moments—good yarns, though they're not exactly representative of his usual daily work behind a desk. As in their previous book (The Camera Never Blinks, 1977), Rather and Herskowitz, in colloquial and sometimes glib style, tell how he got that story. Venturing into Afghanistan just after the Soviet invasion in 1980, Rather and his colleagues braved fearsome chiefs, questionable food (when in doubt, eat only the inside of bread, he recommends), and a firefight to bring home an important story. In China for the 1989 student revolt, the newsman and his team finessed on-site government officials to gain enough time to transmit their video back home before their news operation was shut down. After the Berlin Wall fell, he headed directly for soon-to- topple Prague on the prescient advice of Vernon Walters, ambassador to West Germany. And shortly before Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, he garnered a frank interview with Jordan's King Hussein that, with the help of producer Don Hewitt, was quickly broadcast on 60 Minutes. Rather intercuts his chapters with brief, often folksy ``outtakes'' and isn't above laughing at himself, as when reflecting on his youthful bravado and latter-day caution in covering hurricanes. He offers a credible account of the notorious 1987 episode in which the ``CBS Evening News'' ``went black'' for six minutes (when the preceding broadcast of a tennis game finished earlier than expected), as well as an unedited transcript of the subsequent interview with Vice President (and presidential candidate) George Bush, who dodged questions about his Iran-contra involvement by nastily chiding Rather about the gap. The book closes by recounting a much-publicized 1993 speech in which Rather upbraided TV news colleagues for not pursuing quality. But his book lacks sustained reflection on how to do that—or for that matter, any mention of the struggles of Rather's nightly newscast, now third in the ratings. Enjoyable anecdotes, not much insight or history. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: June 15, 1994

Given Mantle's well-known fondness for the bottle (and his widely publicized decision to seek treatment for it earlier this year), it's perhaps not surprising that his book opens and closes with a plea to kids not to abuse drugs or alcohol. It's an open question as to how many youngsters are likely to read an account of 12 World Series in the 1950s and early '60s, but their elders who remember the Yankees' glory days will enjoy Mantle's detailed descriptions of games from that era, when his team was in the Series nearly every year. Frequent celebrity coauthor Herskowitz (This 'n' That by Bette Davis, 1987, etc.) helps the slugger achieve a low-key, no-frills prose style that packs a lot of information (and some good gossip) into a fairly short book. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

In a crowded life that ended this June, Connally was aide and confidant to Lyndon Johnson, businessman, secretary of the navy, governor of Texas, secretary of the treasury under Nixon, and presidential candidate. But he understood that he would be ``identified forever as the man who was wounded by the gun that killed John Kennedy,'' as he acknowledges matter-of-factly in this memoir (written with Herskowitz, coauthor of autobiographies of Dan Rather and Bette Davis). Two chapters here recount Connally's version of November 22, 1963, as he takes up arms against conspiracy theorists (including Oliver Stone) for ``renewing the nation's most haunting ordeal'' (ironically, the author's death from complications caused by his Dallas wounds have led conspiracy theorists to call for an autopsy). But even aside from the ``six seconds in Dallas,'' the rest of Connally's life still would be enough to merit his reminiscences—which, besides his stints in public office, cover his 1973 switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party; his 1974 indictment and acquittal on bribery charges in connection with the Watergate-era ``milk fund''; and his 1987 bankruptcy. Yet despite his distance from these events, Connally is seldom forthcoming about them—for instance, thanking Barbara Jordan for testifying on his behalf at his trial despite her disagreement ``with several of my political beliefs,'' but never explaining what those beliefs are (though they must relate to Connally's lukewarm stance on civil rights, a convulsive issue on which he's totally silent here). The best chapters detail the author's relationship with LBJ, whom Connally characterizes with affectionate exasperation as a kind of political older brother—impossible to work for but desperately craving to be liked. Like two other rangy Texans, Sam Houston and LBJ, Connally became a major controversial national figure by transforming his state. But while bristling with self-confidence and energy, his memoir tells little about the source of his Texas Tory beliefs. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen) Read full book review >
Released: May 6, 1992

Fast-ball maestro Ryan, who tossed a gopher ball with his autobiography, Throwing Heat (1988), rockets one down the center of the plate in this zippy review of baseball pitchers and their foibles. Ryan entered the major leagues as a New York Met, and he dotes on memories of that team's early years as ``the strangest collection of athletes you can imagine.'' Although some pitchers he discusses (e.g., Warren Spahn) had careers that stretch back to baseball's Pleistocene Age, Ryan, writing with Herskowitz (coauthor, Cosell, etc.), sticks mostly to hurlers of his own era— a massive chunk of baseball history in itself: Ryan, 45, is about to begin his 25th year as a major-leaguer. He likes to rank and categorize his peers: Best southpaw? Sandy Koufax (``like watching a line of poetry come to life''). Pitcher with the nastiest curveball? Koufax again. Luckiest pitcher? Lew Burdette, who in 1957 won 21 games despite an astronomical E.R.A. Best reliever? Rollie Fingers. Strangely, despite his famed equilibrium, Ryan seems fond of pitchers whom he calls ``obsessed'': Jim Palmer, who attempted a comeback after being elected to the Hall of Fame; recluse Steve Carlton (``the Howard Hughes of baseball''); shipwrecks like 31-game winner and convicted felon Denny McLain. But Ryan dislikes bullies, and he argues fiercely and intelligently for good manners on and off the field. He backs this up by speaking well of just about everyone, picking a quip, quote, or quirk that quick-sketches the pitcher to perfection (Koufax became great only when his hair grayed and he realized that it was ``a signal to get busy''; as a child, McLain worked as a numbers-runner). Sometimes the author startles with the literary equivalent of a Ryan fastball: ``Poor timing: Don Larsen's wife filed for divorce on the day he pitched his perfect game in the World Series.'' A power performance from the greatest power pitcher ever. (Thirty-five b&w photos.) Read full book review >