Newsday reporter Waldman recounts his pursuit of the big stories—in these sometimes funny, often uneven, and not always engaging memoirs. From the beginning of his career as a cub reporter for the somewhat stodgy Philadelphia Bulletin, and then on Newsday's rewrite desk, Waldman developed a knack for seeing the humorous side of the news. In 1967, he moved to Newsday's Washington bureau, where he has since covered the street riots that followed Martin Luther King's assassination, anti-Vietnam protests, the House Judiciary Committee's probe into the possible impeachment of Richard Nixon, and the antics of Jerry Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Dan Quayle. There are plenty of laughs here, but it's as if Waldman is trying to write two books at once. The zany anecdotes of reporters on the road are broken up by too often self-righteous musings on the evils of the political game and society's injustices. (On the May Day 1971 protests in Washington: ``When the police arrested thousands of young people walking down the street—not because they were breaking the law, but simply because they were under thirty—I was indignant and showed it in my articles.'') Waldman also delves into personal views, including a bizarre section on actress Debra Winger's stump for the Dukakis campaign: ``On the plane, when the male staffers, the male Secret Service agents, and the male reporters saw her, they went into collective ecstasy. And she tried to make us happy. She posed for pictures with the Secret Service. She had bantering words for just about everyone. Then she walked up front where the candidate sits and sat down across from him.'' While it's all apparently supposed to be funny, some of it just isn't. A roller-coaster ride lurching from pontification to punch line, leaving the reader to distinguish, when possible, between the two.
Read full book review >