A probing biography unveils the insecure depressive lurking inside 60 Minutes journalist Mike Wallace.
Rookie biographer Rader manages to tease out the fallible humanity in an otherwise attack-dog TV reporter who’s always kept his real persona hidden from everyone—including himself. Since his subject’s career spans some 70 years, Rader’s book also serves as a fascinating history of the development of entertainment media in America—namely, TV tabloid-style journalism, which Wallace played an important role in shaping over the years. Although Wallace went from cigarette pitch man to TV talk shows to dubious status as the most feared hit-man reporter on one of the longest running and most revered shows on TV, 60 Minutes, he could never quite come to terms with his identity when he wasn’t busy conducting boisterous and revealing interviews with everyone from Malcolm X to Lyndon Johnson to Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rader’s revelations about Wallace go to some pretty impressive psychological depths: He is portrayed as a man who could dish out withering examinations of others, but knew he might not be capable of withstanding attacks on his own credibility. Although Wallace had his way with presidents, world leaders, celebrities and everyone in between, he finally reached his mental breaking point during the 1980s slander suit that pitted Gen. William Westmoreland against Wallace and 60 Minutes; an ugly trial led Wallace to a botched suicide attempt. Rader’s portrait is of the classic American workaholic, one whose burning ambition and freakishly tireless work ethic were fueled by massive insecurities and existential crises.
Bold, well-crafted biography of a long-elusive and controversial public figure.