THE HARD WAY by Alexander B. Brook


The Odyssey of a Weekly Newspaper Editor
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 The gritty memoir of a rugged individualist whose 20-year stint as proprietor of a debt-burdened community newspaper in coastal Maine was soul-satisfying--if less than idyllic. In 1957, Brook (then 35) forsook a secure niche as a Manhattan business executive and borrowed most of the $30,000 he needed to buy Kennebunk's York County Coast Star. While he soon restored the run-down weekly's long-lost credibility with on-the-ground reporting and contentious editorials, he endured the constant financial pressures imposed by a backwater market largely reliant upon the summer tourist trade. Brook nonetheless managed to make his award-winning journal a force to be reckoned with in the small towns it served. A born boat-rocker, he crusaded against venal politicians, crooked lawyers, aberrant zoning decisions, heedless utilities, developers with little care for the fragility of the local environment, and other targets. Here, using generous samples of his own work and that of colleagues, the author also recalls the high costs (personal as well as business) of taking on the Down East establishment. Over a two-decade span, the enterprise grew without ever prospering, thanks in no small measure to the publisher's in-your-face approach to readers and advertisers. For years, the Star masthead featured ``T.H.W.T.B.'' as a banner slogan; depending on their identity, those who asked were told that the cryptic initials meant either ``The Hard Way's the Best'' or ``To Hell with the Bastards.'' Eventually, the going got too tough even for the resilient, resourceful Brook, and he (along with a pair of minority partners) sold out for over $1.6 million. H.L. Mencken once enjoined the press to comfort the afflicted- -and to afflict the comfortable. Brook's lively, unsentimental account of how he struggled against the odds to abide by this demanding credo makes for an engaging and entertaining, if cautionary, tale. (Maps, eight pages of photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: May 11th, 1993
ISBN: 1-882593-00-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Bridge Works
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993