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Mike Wallace: A Life
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Through a piercing examination of Wallace's personal and professional life, Rader provides a new perspective of this complex human being. We learn that this tough, respected, and ofttimes feared American icon had the same vulnerabilities and frailnesses as do lesser mortals. These discoveries serve to enhance Wallace's humanity, and provide insight into the many dimensions of his long, bittersweet, dramatic existence. Rader's masterful opus demonstrates that, personal trials notwithstanding, Wallace managed to retain his professional persona with grace and dignity. His many personal challenges may well have served to imbue him with the fairness and penchant for truth that characterized his professional life. Bravo to this author's riveting work. It is a must read for history-lovers as well as for observers of human nature. The timeliness of its publication at the finale of Wallace's life is not only a fitting farewell tribute to this truth-seeker, but also an introduction into the daunting efforts and expertise of a dedicated new author.

Phyllis Eisenstadt
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This overview of Mike Wallace's life contains mistakes, made-up conversations and distorted observations that keep it from being objective. I'm not sure what the other Amazon reviewers were reading but they must not have looked at the last few pages where the author admits his sister worked for Mike Wallace (how can Rader claim objectivity?) and where he writes, "Where specific information was not available, I employed a narrative convention: constructing a plausible situation with imagined dialogue that reflects the attitudes and feelings that I know to have been present at the time."

Namely, he admits to fictionalizing parts of this book.

And how did he "know" the "attitudes and feeling" that were present? He wasn't there and he cannot know someone's internal thoughts. Instead most of the book's "research" comes from old articles, books and tapes that the author borrows from.

The pages are filled with hyperbole that makes claims about Wallace that are exaggerated while underplaying his faults. Wallace refused to be part of this book but would appreciate that the author treats the newsman as a "hero." Wallace might even support the author's fictionalizing conversations, since Wallace was often caught misrepresenting information on 60 Minutes. While Wallace certainly did some good interviews and fronted some major stories (with the work actually done by his producers and editors), his many ethical lapses are only briefly mentioned. The author says that Wallace's influence on journalism "cannot be overstated" but that's exactly what happens here.

The book is only for those not interested in reading the many other books out there on the show (include two of Wallace's own memoirs) and those that like books written in puffy tabloid style that lack fairness and objectivity. Make sure to first read the acknowledgments and author's note in the back so you can read it skeptically, just the way Mike Wallace would have looked at it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A wonderful bio. It not only portrays a difficult, fascinating man in a wonderfully balanced light, it also conveys a clear sense of why this man was important. I was never particularly fond of the guy, but I now have the greatest respect for the profound impact he had on our media-driven culture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book allows the reader to effectively "connect-the-dots" on Mike Wallace. We know him from "60 Minutes", spanning five decades, but that's only what the camera shows up. There is the boy, the college student, radio personality, Navy cadet, gameshow host, husband, father, professional cohort, medical patient, and media legend.

Mike is largely the same person in all these modes. He doggedly strives to be the best at whatever he undertakes or in whatever mode he finds himself. He rises to the pinnacle of his core life endeavor because of a laser focus on excellence and a fierce competitive spirit. At the same time, these qualities translate to chroic mediocrity and periodic failure in a number of the modes mentioned, and this may have exacerbated the clinical depression that afflicts him for the better part of his adult life.

Mike realizes he has special talents and gifts at an early age, and parlays them to the stardom he achieves. He needs all those attributes in a cut-throat industry that lives and dies on weekly ratings and the whims of the weekly audience. The book shows Mike thriving on the competition. The adrelalin rush he feels becomes functionally addictive, at the expense of personal pursuits, vacations, relationships, vacations, and ultimately traditional retirement.

The book places emphasis on these numerous ironies that mark Mike's life, including an enlightening and constructive treatment of clinical depression. A dynamo like Mike, and notables like Bill Styron and Art Buchwald are simply laid out by debilitating but treatable clinical depresssion.

The latter chapters of the book become the last years of Mike's life, and the reader observes some of Mike's retrospectives and efforts at some belated fence-mending. One feels Mike is left with a number of regrets, especially his family relationships, and perhaps his lack of leisure time, such as time at Martha's Vinyard. He's caused to admit his most enjoyable media job was his very first, at WOOD radio, in Detroit, for $50 a week. This treatment by the author seems to ratify a message he wants the reader to glean; that borderline obsessive focus on an admirable but relatively narrow professional goal, often has a significant price. Mike was a career star on "60 Minutes", but four marriages and estranges families, children, and friends made him an also-ran behind the camera.

This is an enjoyable read and provides some good food-for-thought to the interested reader.
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Format: Hardcover
Over the past week I have been struggling with the extremely long Cronkite bio which I am enjoying with plenty of breaks. Mike Wallace: A Life has provided a terrific respite as well as a counterpoint because it manages to condense a lot of Wallace's career points while still presenting a detailed story of the legendary newsman's long broadcasting career while intermingling a huge amount of information about Wallace's personal demons which at times included a screwed up family life.
While I think the public's awareness of Wallace is normally associated with his long career at CBS, he initially started his career at a radio station in Grand Rapids. This lead to a job in Chicago where he apparently had his hand in a little bit of everything, including a career as a radio announcer and a soap opera actor. A true pioneer in the medium of television he eventually moved from Chicago with his second wife Buff Cobb to take on NYC and a stint as the stars of a husband and wife interview show. From there his career and public profile took off and he became a household name as well as earning a reputattion as a serious television journalist.
When looking at the personal side of Mike Wallace, this book portrays a man who sometimes was filled with self-doubt. He was married four times, not always a faithful husband, had two children by his first wife who he didn't see nearly enough while they were growing up, dealt with depression so severe that he contemplated suicide, yet was also a magnificent interviewer who was often at the top of his game.
This was a very good book that satisfies on many levels. It managed to chronicle Wallace's career which coincided with the development of network television news which was a male oriented organization for decades, while providing a strong sense of who Mike Wallace was.
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on September 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Mike Wallace is one of the reasons why I went to journalism school. I first fell in love with Walter Cronkite and watched him every day after school. Then I fell in love with Mike Wallace on 60 minutes and the way he interviewed.

After reading this book, I realize Mike Wallace was not a man I should have idolized. Yes, he had hard hitting questions during his interviews, but the behind the scenes, he was not a very nice person. He was also a very conflicted and troubled person.

This was a very well written book and I really enjoyed learning about Mike Wallace. He really struggled his entire life and you wouldn't have known that from just watching 60 Minutes. It's also interesting to see a little bit about the behind the scenes of network television and news programs.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Screenwriter Peter Rader has taken the abundant public material that is available on the life of the legendary Mike Wallace, meshed it with many interviews that he conducted of Mike's family, friends, colleagues and others who have crossed Mike's path and produced an extremely interesting and seemingly complete biography of a very complex and extraordinary man. The book is well-edited and well-documented and makes for a terrific read of an extremely signficant 20th Century broadcast pioneer.

Published shortly before Mike's death this year, Rader details the complete arc of Mike's life beginning with his troubled relationship with his mother and his start as a Michigan radio newsman (ironically with eventual co-CBSer Douglas Edwards). Rader leaves nothing out--We revisit Mike's days as a game show host, Broadway actor, Parliament cigarette pitchmeister, co-host with second wife Buff Cobb on a daily chat show and the show that eventually made Mike a household name, the New York City broadcast, Night Beat where he honed his second-to-none interview skills that he showcased successfully for 30 years on 60 Minutes, Mike's deservedly everlasting legacy.

As fully explained by Rader, Mike's personal life was somehwat troubled. He was married four times, leaving his first wife with two very young sons for the aforementioned Ms. Cobb. The eldest of the two sons, Peter, died tragically in an accident in Greece when he was 19 in 1962. Mike's other biological son, Fox anchor Chris Wallace, was essentially raised by his mother and stepfather, CBS executive Bill Leonard. Leonard was to play a key role in helping both Chris with his career and seems to have played a major role in bringing a then soiled Mike to CBS and perhaps even helped Mike get on 60 Minutes. Leonard also seems to have played a contructive role in helping Chris reconnect with his father although one does get the impression that this reconciliation was not complete until very late in Mike's life.

Unfortunately--perhaps triggered, understandably by Peter's death--Mike sufferred from debilitating depression for may years as a he approached his mid-sixties (in 1983) around the time that then former General William Westmoreland sued Mike and CBS for libel as a result of a 1982 CBS documentary on Vietnam very critical of Westmoreland. Rader takes the time to detail Mike's torture in seeing this litigation through. It was only when the Westmoreland team realized that they would lose that they withdrew the litigation sometime in 1985.

CBS allowed Mike the opportunity to work until he was 90 years old but Rader's story details the many just plain awful events that Mike had to go through for the last 25 years of his career. One wonders why Mike felt compelled to put himself through this self-torture when it all wasn't necessary but the answer is self-evident: Mike had a passion for his work that even old age couldn't put down. After all, that's why he became the very famous Mike Wallace.

Rader, while clearly an admirer of the professional Wallace--walks the reader through some of Mike's many limitations. Besides the abandonment of his two sons, Mike was clearly extremely self-absorbed which caused the end of his first and third marriages. He treated most of his subordinates quite cruelly and seems to have made it a practice of sexually harrassing many of his female associates. Rader also details some of Mike's professional transgressions as a journalist which today, if not then, would certainly be categorized as unethical. It is also sad to see how Wallace treated original 60 Minutes co-host Harry Reasoner at the latter's CBS retirement party in the late eighties, at time when Harry was suffering from lung cancer.

When I think of Mike Wallace, I prefer to remember his amazing contributions of all of the secrets and fraud that he uncovered over 60 years. However, after reading Rader's book, I don't think many readers would be willing to pay the price of that kind of fame.
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on July 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Attn: History Buffs

You need to buy the book - not the Kindle version...The book comes with a DVD ...You can watch his best interviews there...

Semper Fi

PS
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
what i admire about Mike Wallace is that it was never a Popularity contest and he just spoke his mind and didn't think twice. 60 minutes was like mental required viewing and watching because it was the last of its kind of news show where it was about actual journalism and not the TMZ and other gossip fodder that has become the norm and accepted. Mike Wallace was tough nose no non sense reporter and his interviews were candid and yet they offered balance. you either Loved or Loathed his perspective, however no matter where you came down on him you respected what he brought and represented as a NewsMan. very well written book. RIP
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
After reading some of the positive reviews about this book, I decided to give it a read. It's hard to put down, and thoroughly entertaining from cover to cover. The author does a remarkable job of covering Wallace's life- there's no bias whatsoever in this writing. This is exactly how a biography should read, in my opinion. Definitely would highly recommend this book to anyone. I'm definitely looking forward to more of Mr. Rader's work. 5 well-earned stars.
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