"""I'VE SEEN THE BEST OF IT"": A Memoir" by Joseph W. with Adam Platt Alsop
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"""I'VE SEEN THE BEST OF IT"": A Memoir"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Undertaken during his last two years, after being told he had lung cancer, Alsop's richly human, compelling pages were smoothed over and completed by colleague Platt. Alsop (1910-89) was a Washington journalist of great wit, knowledge, and humanity. Raised on his father's 700-acre farm on the Connecticut Gold Coast, he recalls elegiacally his schooling as an ""educated gentleman"" at Groton and Harvard and his youth among the Long Island North Shore's ""WASP Ascendancy,"" the fabulously rich who produced many of the nation's leaders, especially the two Roosevelt Presidents to whom Alsop was related. This tribe, with its high-flown diction and vast dress codes, also produced the ""Wise Men"" who helped guide FDR through the New Deal and WW II. As a fresh young reporter in the New York Herald Tribune's Washington, D.C., bureau, Alsop found himself leading a double life as a working reporter with a Senate beat and as a nightly diner-out among the elite, with dinner every second month with cousin Eleanor and the President at the White House. He switched to writing a column in tandem with a second reporter and eventually with his brother Stewart. In Hong Kong during WW II, Alsop went to an opium den with The New Yorker's Emily Hahn (then pregnant), then joined Colonel Claire Chennault's American Volunteer Group of ""Flying Tigers"" and later became a minor actor in the recall of General Joseph Stilwell. Alsop gives us firsthand views of George Kennan, Joseph McCarthy, Charles de Gaulle, Dean Acheson, Winston Churchill, and Robert Oppenheimer, among others. His friendship with JFK becomes exhilarating. But the Vietnam War collapses his gusto, and when he retires from journalism in 1974, it is because ""I could no longer understand what was happening in America, perhaps because I had finally become an old man, frozen in the viewpoints of the past."" Top-flight--and then some.

Pub Date: March 16th, 1992
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Norton