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Moyers on America: A Journalist and His Times Hardcover – May 10, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; 1st edition (May 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565848926
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565848924
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,027,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I am a journalist but I am also a pilgrim," Moyers declares in this eloquent selection of his speeches and commentaries. Although these 20 pieces have been edited to resemble essays, their origin lends them a rousing urgency, as Moyers relates stories and insights in his personal journey from small-town Texas boyhood to eminent broadcast journalist. Whether he's extolling the virtues of participatory democracy based on the early 20th-century Progressive movement or lamenting recent evidence that democracy is on the auction block with politicians bought by special interests, Moyers's ability to communicate history, philosophy and personal experience simultaneously is impressive. His instinct for enlisting stories to get his message across appears throughout this collection, including tales from the years he worked for Lyndon Johnson (before and after Johnson became President). In a portrait of Johnson's political strengths and personal weaknesses, a less canny storyteller might leave out the telling anecdote about LBJ's integrating the Faculty Club of the University of Texas in 1964, but not Moyers. The same combination of candor, vividness and forthrightness animating his Johnson portrait is what gives such authority to Moyers's arguments that responsible journalism of unquestioned integrity is essential to our democratic process and that domination of news media by conglomerates, along with trends in celebrity-obsessed journalism, is undermining the freedom of the press. Moyers's wisdom, common sense and deeply felt principles should inspire and energize many readers in the very best way.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Award-winning journalist Moyers offers a thoughtful and caustic look at American politics. This first-time collection of Moyers' commentaries begins with his speech "This Is Your Story. Pass It On," read by millions online and applauded for its insights into the troublesome trends in American democracy. Moyers powerfully and eloquently laments the increasing influence of the wealthy at the expense of the poor. In other essays, Moyers recalls a more progressive era in the U.S., when the government played an active role in protecting citizens, and reporters were more vigilant in their scrutiny of corruption. Reflecting on his personal beliefs and observations from his various perches as journalist, Peace Corps organizer, and top assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, Moyers offers a variety of penetrating views on the past 50 years of American politics. He laments the "final fling" of progressive politics in the Johnson administration and rails against heartless conservatism and corporate journalism, trends that he sees threatening the very essence of democracy. But amid the plethora of corporate scandals, shameless materialism, and religious and political chaos afoot in the nation, Moyers sees a battle to renew American democracy. A wide-ranging examination of American politics. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Bill Moyers and this book is just one of those.
What I can say is that this was a challenging read for me and I encourage you to read it too!
Robert N. Sanders
For all the outrage Moyers conveys, the book is also a tribute to the American spirit.
Valerie J. Saturen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By William Kowinski on June 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After a half century of journalism, Bill Moyers is retiring at year's end. There has been no other broadcast journalist like him, and unfortunately it's unlikely there will be again. American television journalism does a notoriously poor job covering the arts, culture, science, humanities---in fact, ideas of any kind, and certainly of any complexity. Yet Bill Moyers was perfectly comfortable questioning Senators, foreign diplomats, and philosopher Martha Nussbaum, playwright August Wilson, and physicist Murray Gell-Man. His interviews with Joseph Campbell and Robert Bly changed the cultural landscape, and just last year his coverage helped stir public outrage which stopped the FCC from allowing media conglomerates to absorb even more news outlets.
Moyers made two significant detours in his journalistic journey: an early stint at a Baptist seminary, and several years working in the White House for the man who'd given him his first broadcast journalism job at a tiny Texas station, Lyndon Johnson. The impulse that led to each, and the experience gained, gave his journalism a rare richness. Viewers responded to his integrity and authenticity, and the courage behind the smile---also rare. All of these are on display in this collection taken from talks and commentaries, along with historical perspective and informal reminiscence too informative and entertaining for prime time.
Moyers'words in this book on the dangerous trends of celebrity journalism and conglomerate control should be required reading for young journalists, if not all citizens. His evaluations of his private and public past will be equally useful and inspiring to readers who have grown up with him. This is a penetrating yet companionable volume, from an exemplary journalist who says he still believes, and still doubts.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on July 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
One thing when you get when you read Bill Moyers is a man who speaks from his soul. This journalist and minister laments the disappearance of a free and diverse press being taken over by conglomerates that filter our information with a singular point of view.

He is a populist who believes that our elected representatives are supposed to represent the people who vote for them, not the corporations who give contributions to them. In any other place that is called bribery. In Congress, it is called a contribution.

Equally disconcerting to Moyers is his perception that Americans no longer thirst for the news and the political decisions that affect their lives on a daily basis. Americans care less even about the information that is filtered to them.

I was unable to connect some of the experiences he wrote here to his central theme, but I was always able to imagine the words on the page being spoken by the man with a calm, reassuring voice, the same man who received more than thirty years of Emmy and other awards for outstanding journalism.

Naturally, there is always someone like Bernie Goldberg who saw fit to place this patriotic American and gentleman on his list of 100 people who are ruining America. But, it took no time to feel good again. All I had to do was consider the source. (You don't make comparisons between a Goldberg and a Moyers.)

Read Moyers, watch Moyers every time you can. National treasures are hard to come by.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Historians will be kind to the gentle but passsionate Bill Moyers and will rank him as one of our best journalists, both for his skill and integrity. Here he has collected some of his speeches and commentaries--they range in time from the 1970's to the present--about some of the things he cares about deeply: democracy, politics corrupted by money, the costs of war, the possibility of people with diverse religions living in harmony, integrity in journalism. Mr. Moyers also writes about growing up in the Southwest and gets personal about friendship, growing old and dying. He is right-- though not to the right-- on a lot of things here. His essay on why he has worn the flag in his label is one that someone needed to write. He is totally correcct. How about his description of Baptists when he compares them to jalapeno peppers? ". . .one or two make for a tasty dish, but a whole bunch of them together in one place brings tears to your eyes." And that slaveholder Thomas Jefferson wrote it right but "lived it wrong."

Mr. Moyers also includes an insightful chapter on President Johnson, reminding us of all the good things he did for this country-- Medicare, Medicaid, federal aid to education, the right of blacks to citizenship-- before he slipped into the great hole called the Vietnam War. I was so touched by Mr. Moyers' chapter "Where The Jackrabbits Were", that I read it twice. When the author was born in 1934 his father was earning $2 a day working on the construction of a highway from the Texas border to Oklahoma City. He describes the difficulties that the Moyers family and their neighbors had with little money and no doctors. Moyers makes it clear that he is not trying to idealize his past. About his father Moyers writes: ". . .
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jason Cooper on January 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Whether or not one agrees with his conclusions, it's hard to deny that Bill Moyers loves his country and his craft. This volume is a series of his speeches, pieces for television, and other writings, which have been edited for the book. Nearly every page sparkles with his love of democracy and the people who depend upon it.

The book is divided into four parts, the first two concentrating on the nation and the questions America faces in a new era. While the author devotes a lot of time to the war in Iraq, especially in Part One, he also writes passionately about the loss of good jobs and the lack of aid available for families who fall on hard times.

His critique of the media is solid, as Moyers has worked in the field since the 1950s. His essay "Making of a Journalist" traces his beginnings as a cub reporter at a small Texas newspaper. Elsewhere the author condemns the mega-mergers and vested interest of the modern corporate media, noting their silence during the reforms of the Telecommunications Act in 1996.

But while the author decries the trend toward corporate media domination, he isn't overly sentimental about the past. During his days as a cub, there was virtually no coverage of blacks in the paper, even though they represented half of the town: "Only white people counted in those days," he writes, "only their doings were considered newsworthy. What blacks did, felt, and thought never made the paper."

His final chapter, "Looking Back," is most revealing. Here we get a sense of the influences that have shaped the man. His piece "Where the Jackrabbits Were" tells of going home to East Texas to spend time with his father. Life was very rough there, especially during the Depression years.
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More About the Author

Bill Moyers was a founding organizer of the Peace Corps, a senior White House assistant(and press secretary) to President Lyndon Johnson from 1963 until 1967, the publisher of Newsday, a senior news analyst for CBS News, and the producer of groundbreaking series for public television. He is the winner of more than thirty Emmy awards and nine Peabody awards. Among his bestselling books are Listening to America; A World of Ideas; The Power of Myth (with Joseph Campbell); and Moyers on America. His latest book is Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues. He lives in New York City.

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