SNYDER'S WALK by Thomas B. Morgan


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From a veteran journalist and one-time novelist (This Blessed Shore, 1966), a talky exploration of journalistic ethics that makes its obvious points within the picaresque context of a reporter's coverage of a 1966 ""Peace Walk."" Lanky and 40-ish Jack Snyder, longtime correspondent for Harrington's Weekly World (a Life/Look clone), adheres to the journalist's traditional code of noninvolvement in the stories he covers. When his best friend, ace reporter Phil Zimmerman, begins to disregard the code by filing dispatches from Vietnam critical of US involvement, and then is killed during a Vietcong ambush, Jack's conscience is touched. So when he is approached by passionate and beautiful war-protester Rachel Abraham, who asks him to cover a Peace Walk from Chicago to Washington, an intrigued Jack agrees to do the story. Once on the Walk, Jack falls in love with Rachel and makes friends with the dozen or so marchers, particularly Sam Lucas, the Walk's overweight, middle-aged leader, and Reed Herndon, a convicted draft resister now on parole. As the band hikes east, they commune with church, civic, and school groups, nuggets of 60's Americana that Morgan portrays with an eagle eye for period detail. Long-winded discussions of US foreign policy give Morgan a soapbox from which to preach about peace, and also slowly convince Jack of the rightness of the marchers' cause--as does harassment by an outlaw motorcycle gang. When Jack finally sleeps with Rachel, and then realizes that Herndon is willing to break parole and return to prison by practicing civil disobedience when the Walk reaches Washington, his conscience overrides his journalist's creed and he acts wholeheartedly on behalf of the marchers--a move that brings tragic, unexpected results. Despite Morgan's knowledgeable depiction of the 60's peace movement and news biz, his characters seem more vehicles for ideas than they do real people, and finally as predictable as the morals he hammers home. Disappointing.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1987
Publisher: Doubleday