Further evidence that good editors do not necessarily make good writers.
Bradlee is, of course, the now-retired, legendary editor of the Washington Post, the man who took the paper from Sputnik to Watergate to Iran-Contra and beyond. Yet of this important work we learn little; we are instead treated to truisms like, "A newspaper is not referred to as `the daily miracle' for nothing.'' Bradlee is candid about having been scooped by the New York Times on the Pentagon papers and the role that scooping had on the Post's devotion to Watergate: "We found ourselves in the humiliating position of having to rewrite the competition.'' But his other remarks on coverage of Watergate affair, in which his coordination was crucial, are mostly unhelpful; there is little to learn from his cheerleading: "You really haven't been interviewed until you have sat across from Woodward and Bernstein. Bob with his square, all-American midwestern 4-H friendliness disguising, for the most part, the relentless determination that is his trademark. Carl, with his Hippy, conspiratorial, Rolling Stone exterior disguising his inventive, intuitive, analytical technique.'' There is no news here, especially not about the current buzz of the Beltway: the identity of Deep Throat. Bradlee shrugs off the issue, remarking, "It should be possible to identify Deep Throat simply by entering all the information about him in All the President's Men into a computer...'' Neither is there much analysis or self-reflection in the author's uninspired recitation of events. Bradlee has the maddening habit of hinting at close friendships with important players like JFK but never revealing quite enough of what would be truly useful to know: the relationship of the press to power in America.
Not much of a newspapering memoir, all in all, which is unfortunate after so rich a career.