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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375406441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375406447
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,108,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. C HALL VINE VOICE on November 17, 2003
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 Verified Purchase
David Brinkley was a creation of the time and place of network television in the 50's and 60's in his partnership with Chet Huntley. This book is a reminder of the kind of colorful spice his reporting added to the news. The idea of ending a news broadcast on a humorous note was his invention and it has been widely imitated but not duplicated.

While the entire book is excellent, his portrait of John F. Kennedy is really the way I remember JFK. It is JFK without tears, without Camelot, respectful of his talents, and with no attempt to hide his vices. The recent attempts to build JFK into an antiwar man of the left are specifically disputed by Brinkley.

His account of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago is what you might expect from that disaster, but he adds one astounding detail I've never read anywhere else, in what is otherwise the usual account of what we all saw that week. I won't spoil it.
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Format: Paperback
One is almost tempted to use an old Walter Cronkite line in reviewing this work..."And That's The Way It Was..."

Because that what David Brinkley does in this, his last work, take us back to his time, our time, and tell us about the people, places and events that became what we now call "our time."

Extremely will written. One almost feels as if he's sitting in the den with Brinkley listening to him as he tells the story.

And, if you have read this far, isn't it interesting that everyone who has reviewed this book as given it a four-star rating. Don't know that I've seen that before. It is a good book and deserving of at leat that rating, perhaps higher.
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Format: Paperback
This book contains a hundred wonderful anecdotes from the life of a man in the middle of things for four decades. They don't make journalists like David Brinkley any longer.
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Format: Hardcover
David Brinkley's final work is a brief but often amusing accounts of "persons, places, and events" covered in his long career--a literary post-dinner liquour to be sipped and savored for the moment and the memories. Brinkley is at his best when he recalls his meetings with Washington types, from reporters to presidents, in brief summations. It was fun to once again, for those of us long in tooth, recall the antics of Martin Dies, the racist Theodore Bilbo, the amusing bloviator from the Illinois prairies, Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, the solemn hat-wearing reporter, Mae Craig, and other worthies that Brinkley chooses to comment on. Brinkley also shares his views on presidents he knew and interviewed. There is nothing particularly notable here, but little asides as, for example, his apology to President Clinton after Brinkley's late night put-down of Clinton's long-windedness during the 1996 convention are of interest.

Some of the tales that Brinkley tells are little known, or forgotten, as for example his treks into the hinterland of America, early TV travel documentaries, that he helped pioneer. All of these mini-essays and remembrancs make for a nice bedside book, to be picked up and savored before the sandman arrives. As usual, the writing is clear and unpretensious and his acerbic and sometimes jaundiced view of Life in Washington greatly appreciated, particularly by those who have lived here during many of the events written about.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is not a memoir in the traditional sense, or even directly about Brinkley. Instead, Brinkley has composed a collection of essays recounting, as mentioned in the subtitle, the people, places and events that have captured his interest during his career as a television journalist. These compositions provide glimpses into the past sixty years, and are both observant and humorous. Brinkley helps shed some light on the second half of the twentieth century, and in doing so, also provides us a glimpse into his own personality. Through his insights and reactions, we can just begin to get a glimmer of the man behind the familiar face.
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