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Brinkley's Beat: People, Places, and Events That Shaped My Time Hardcover – November 4, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This volume serves as an appropriate remembrance of the acerbic longtime NBC News and, later, ABC, anchorman, who died in June. A journalist since 1938, Brinkley was an unusual figure in American life: a mainstay media personality whose defining trait was intelligence and good judgment. The subtitle serves as an exact description of the table of contents, as the book indeed does begin with personalities (Hoffa, Reagan), then recounts some of his travels (Hong Kong, Vienna) and closes with reflections on events like the Kennedy assassination. As befits memories of a Washington journalist, the "People" section focuses almost entirely on Washington political creatures, some of them obscure (e.g., Martin Dies, May Craig). The sketches are purposely brief, verging on perfunctory: Brinkley consciously keeps his remarks on the surface, so only some of the sketches have compelling insights to offer. The sketch of Bobby Kennedy, a friend of Brinkley's, is a notable exception, capturing the split nature of his truncated career. Brinkley's skill at handling tone is better displayed in the final two sections. His thoughts about the men who made sacrifices at Normandy in 1944 are very moving; writing about the Mediterranean, he is appropriately charmed and awestruck by its history. Brinkley wrote a somewhat similar volume in 1995, although his tenor has softened considerably in the intervening years.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In this posthumously published memoir, Brinkley's well-known wry perspective is brought to bear on some of the most notable people, places, and events of his 50 years in television news. Brinkley came to Washington, D.C., in 1943 to begin a career that would put him in contact with an array of memorable figures, including Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo, whose career was "distinguished by its unabashed racism," and Congressman Martin Dies, the original architect of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Brinkley covered 11 presidents during his career but profiles only 3: cunning, energetic Lyndon Johnson; Ronald Reagan, whom Brinkley found impenetrable, "a man who filtered reality through a set of assumptions and preconceptions that he refused to question"; and Bill Clinton, coming to office with great promise but ultimately as overestimated as president as he had been underestimated as a candidate. The places Brinkley recalls include Normandy in 1944 and 1994 and black-and-white Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s. Given his longevity as a television journalist, his access to the powerful and influential, and his own sardonic perspective, Brinkley offers an engrossing look at the most fascinating people and events of the last half-century in a fitting capstone to his memorable career. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375406441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375406447
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,180,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Broadcast journalism lost one of its truly unique voices in 1998 when David Brinkley hung up his microphone for the last time. He had spent more than a half century in the nation's capital, observing and commenting on the powerful and the not-so-powerful, always with a slightly jaundiced eye and a true gift for slicing through the mire of pomposity and hypocrisy that so often threatens to bury Washington, D.C.

In this book, Brinkley serves up a series of portraits of some of the most people he encountered in Washington; some of the most interesting places he visited; and some of the most memorable events. His word portraits are vivid, memorable and uniquely Brinkley. Among the people profiled is long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. In Brinkley's view, Hoover was not quite the hero his supporters thought he was nor quite as evil as his detractors claimed him to be. The real tragedy of Hoover, in Brinkley's eyes, was that he stayed in power too long until he became irrelevant. Three presidents, five congressmen, journalist May Craig and Teamster's President Jimmy Hoffa round out Brinkley's gallery of people.

Although Brinkley enjoyed his anchorman role, he says he also found it important to get out around the nation and the world from time to time to help maintain a sense of perspective. The travel documentary may be a staple of television today, but it was Brinkley and his NBC colleagues who invented the form in the 1950s. He tells that he always loved exploring the ordinary even as most of his colleagues were proccupied with the great events of the day. The travel documentaries, he suggest, helped convey the message that the news is more than just great events--it's also "about the way ordinary people go about the business of life.
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Format: Hardcover
Legendary newsman David Brinkley's final book lacks the narrative sweep of his autobiography or of "Washington Goes To War," his highly recommended history of the District of Columbia's growth during World War II. But "Brinkley's Beat," published shortly after its author's death in June 2003, retains the trademark of his six-decade news career: a walk along the fine line between wry humor and casual, near folksy storytelling, all told with an insider's sense of detail.

It's basically Brinkley clearing out his lengthy, valuable notebook, remembering people he knew and sharing a few pages at a time about them. In chapters no more than a few pages each he recalls infamous icons like Senator Joe McCarthy (with some personal remembrances of Brinkey's sister, who worked for McCarthy), FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, and Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa. He also shares his views on presidents from Clinton to John Kennedy. Brinkley candidly assesses each man's career and their enduring popularity and legacy.

Along the way he speaks of personal disdain over Johnson's allegedly wiretapping his phone during the Vietnam war, shares a moving account of the days following Robert Kennedy's 1968 assassination, and even chastises himself for publically criticizing Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election victory speech. (It would be Brinkley's final covered campaign even as another chapter addresses the 24 political conventions he reported at and how television changed the conventions' intent and approach.)

But "Brinkley's Beat" shares its spotlight with smaller, more intimate reminiscences.
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Format: Hardcover
He arrived in Washington at the height of World War II in 1943. And there he would remain for more than half a century. David Brinkley would become part of the fabric of that town. He would cover the administrations of eleven different American Presidents. He was involved in the medium of television from its infancy and by the end of the 1950's he was one of the most recognizable faces in the nation. "Brinkley's Beat: People, Places and Events That Shaped My Time", completed shortly before his death in June 2003, discusses some of the people, places and events that shaped his time. Among the people he remembers are Martin Dies, J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Jimmy Hoffa and Presidents Johnson, Reagan and Clinton. But two of my favorites had to be May Craig and Sen. Everett Dirksen. May Craig was the very first female White House reporter. The fact is that when Brinkley came to town in 1943 she was the only female White House reporter. You are sure to get a kick out of some of the tales Brinkley has to tell about her. And then there was Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, a true American original. The country could sure use a few like him nowadays.

Among the places Brinkley recalls none is more important than Normandy. Brinkley served with the 120th infantry for about a year before being discharged for medical reasons. Many of the men he trained and served with would lose their lives at Normandy. In 1994, Brinkley went to Normandy with a film crew from ABC News to report on the fiftieth anniversary of the invasion. His poignant recollections of that moving visit are included here. On a much lighter note another of the places Brinkley remembers well is Vienna, Austria. He visited there during the height of the Cold War in 1962.
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