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Write Hard, Die Free: Dispatches from the Battlefields & Barrooms of the Great Alaska Newspaper War Paperback – April 1, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"There was a time when the newspaper business was actually fun. And nowhere was it more fun than in Alaska, as Howard Weaver reminds us in this in this riveting book of tales from the wild frontier of American journalism." ----Dave Barry, Miami Herald

"The last great newspaper book - a testament to the true value of news and caring about where we live. Howard Weaver is a gifted storyteller with amazing tales of fighting for the heart and soul of Alaska." --Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?

"This book is fascinating, inspiring, and moving. The author tells an important story about the conflicting forces at play in Alaska much larger than his own." ----Melanie Sill, editor, Sacramento Bee, 2007-2011

"Write Hard, Die Free reads like an X-ray of someone with an oversized heart. This is about the battle between good and evil, yet the most stunning portrait is of Howard Weaver - his capacity to care, to fight for things worth fighting for." ----John Larson, PBS correspondent

"Every self-respecting journalist should absorb this book -- the competitiveness of Howard Weaver in the name of gathering news bursts out of the pages like sparks on a battery." ----Dan Raley, MSN.com, author of Pitchers of Beer

"This book is fascinating, inspiring, and moving. The author tells an important story about the conflicting forces at play in Alaska much larger than his own." ----Melanie Sill, editor, Sacramento Bee, 2007-2011

"Write Hard, Die Free reads like an X-ray of someone with an oversized heart. This is about the battle between good and evil, yet the most stunning portrait is of Howard Weaver - his capacity to care, to fight for things worth fighting for." ----John Larson, PBS correspondent

About the Author

Howard Weaver lives with his wife Barbara Hodgin in the Sierra foothills, where they tend about 100 fruit and olive trees and learn, the hard way, about farming.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Epicenter Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935347195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935347194
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,448,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Howard Weaver was born in Anchorage. Alaska in 1950 and lived there with brief interruptions for 45 years. In that time he lived, worked and played across the state--as a cannery hand and set netter in Bristol Bay, river rafter in the Arctic and cabin-builder in Kachemak Bay. Mostly, though, he was a newspaper journalist in Anchorage who started covering high school sports events and ended up as editor of the state's largest paper.

Weaver helped lead the Anchorage Daily News to two Pulitzer Prizes, hosted a public television program for 10 years and was named one of the 40 most influential Alaskans in the first 40 years of statehood.

He is married to Barbara Hodgin and now lives mostly in Northern California. Learn more and find and contact information at howardweaver.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By zen on April 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you weren't around for the Great Anchorage Newspaper Wars, you may not think this book will be relevant. But Howard Weaver's gifted storytelling details more than the city's competition between two papers. In fact, the reader witnesses corruption at all levels, the stranglehold big business (oil) had (has) on the people of Alaska, and the decline of investigative journalism. He names names, admits mistakes and paints a vivid portrait of the good, bad and the ugly of Alaska's post-pipeline boom history.

To be reminded that there was a time that a small-market newspaper actually investigated stories and wrote to high journalistic standards--Pullitzer Prize standards, in fact--is both compelling and sobering when we consider what much of the business of journalism has become. We also get to witness the metamorphosis of an idealistic, snot-nosed, hard-drinking smart aleck to a more mature, slightly jaded, sober...well, smart aleck. Weaver's humor never wanes and his idealism, while roughed-up a bit, still shines through.

Sadly, no one's named "Scoop", and nobody yells "Stop the presses!" but the spirit of the now nearly-extinct authentic newspaper journalism is alive and well in this book.

Full disclosure: I was there the day Howard announced he was leaving the News. Everyone, from lowly art department geek (like me) all the way to the highest levels of the newsroom knew one thing: ADN would never be the same again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rusty Coats on June 6, 2012
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"Write Hard, Die Free" was such an insightful, poignantly written book that I stole moments away from a romantic trip to Paris to read it. Howard Weaver's book is part memoir, part management how-to, part industry fable, all written clearly and vividly. While the passion of the newspaper war soars from each page, beneath those flinty peaks is a humility and even a tenderness. Newspaper wars are the stuff of legend, and this was among the most legendary; as a new reporter for McClatchy's Modesto newspaper in 1989, I heard those legends at our own newsroom bar. Years later, as I became "the web guy," Howard became a confidant and mentor as he explored the digital frontier for corporate - but more than just professionally, as any reader of his book will appreciate. There is a victory in this book, and also a sadness - the aftermath of winning a battle can occasionally have a chalky taste. Howard is honest about this, about reinventing himself, and about the slide of Alaska from Frontier to Palin - a topic he promises to tackle in his next book. I'm eagerly awaiting it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ken C on May 12, 2012
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Thank Howard for the memories. As the past president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, I personally knew most of your characters that you were critical of. Glad I wasn't one of them. Many of us in the business community viewed the competition between the two newspapers as a good thing. Advertising rates were lower and both newspapers offered different editorial viewpoints providing readers a choice. I subscribed and advertised in both newspapers. In the end, the newspaper chain McClatchy Company outspent and out-maneuvered the locally owned Times.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joe Acton on March 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Those who specialize in analysis generally have the advantage of not having been in the foray. Their views are not the least bit influenced by the bob-and-weave of the moment and as a result, the moment is lost to endless analysis by arm chair historians. In "Write Hard, Die Free" Howard Weaver brings that moment to life with searing clarity.

Ostensibly, "Write Hard, Die Free" is about the newspaper war in Alaska, which a contemporary reader may view as a bit too narrow for their tastes. But it's a vastly broader subject than what appears on first blush: it's really about capitalism gone mad -- unchecked by law, regulation or even common sense. "Write Hard, Die Free" chronicles what appears to be an historical axiom: money corrupts and it corrupts absolutely (with apologies to Lord Acton). And as vast new deposits of oil have been discovered off the Falkland Islands, one cannot help but look to the experience of Alaska as a guidepost for other far-flung exploitation.

Perhaps no single voice was better prepared to spotlight the corruption of Alaska under an unprecedented avalanche of "oil money" than Howard Weaver, a reporter who was on the ground before the madness of the Alaska Pipeline and who assiduously thereafter waved flags of warning. If you are looking for the encyclopedia of economic and social mistakes that can be made at the hands of big oil, "Write Hard, Die Free" is your index.

This is the story of a newspaper war, a hard fought and bitter contest on both sides. But make no mistake, the combatants were not fighting about subscribers. They were fighting about a way of life, its evolution - its very survival. And fortunately, the Anchorage Daily News won the war. The only regret is that they didn't win sooner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scott D. Mcmurren on September 18, 2012
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For those readers who want an up-close look at an epic news battle, this is a great read. Alaska residents past and present will recognize many of the names in the book, since their by-lines appeared in the Anchorage Daily News (and often in the Anchorage Times as well)!

For those of us who live in Anchorage, reading "Write Hard, Die Free" is a walk down Memory Lane. We remember Bob Atwood and the Anchorage Times--and how he used his front page as a Bully Pulpit in his pitch to build an empire. And we remember seeing the McClatchy clan come in on a white horse to save the Anchorage Daily News. We remember the enduring grace of Publisher Kay Fanning...compared with the take-no-prisoners brashness of "General Manager" Jerry Grilly.

We remember the stories of "A People in Peril". And the reporters who gave those stories a voice: Toomey, Mauer and others. And of course the Exxon Valdez...and how things changed forever.

Howard, I'm glad you were able to reconstruct a blow-by-blow in "WHDF". I was a freelance travel columnist for the News (1982-2008), so my view was a little different than those who worked in the newsroom all week long (and then some). But I also was an avid reader, a subscriber and an advertiser.

I'm proud to know many of those mentioned in the book--and happy with Howard's characterization of the struggle. The stakes were high--and many folks just threw everything aside and gave it all to the battle. I think Howard and Jerry were great leaders in the quest.

I had a great time reading WHDF. And I recommend it!
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