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Big Russ and Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life Paperback – Bargain Price, May 11, 2005
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Veteran newsman and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert is known for his direct and unpretentious style and in this charming memoir he explains why. Russert's father is profiled as a plainspoken World War II veteran who worked two blue-collar jobs while raising four kids in South Buffalo but the elder Russert's lessons on how to live an honest, disciplined, and ethical life are shown to be universal. Big Russ and Me, a sort of Greatest Generation meets Tuesdays with Morrie, could easily have become a sentimental pile of mush with a son wistfully recalling the wisdom of his beloved dad. But both Russerts are far too down-to-earth to let that happen and the emotional content of the book is made more direct, accessible, and palatable because of it. The relationship between father and son, contrary to what one would think of as essential to a riveting memoir, seems completely healthy and positive as Tim, the academically gifted kid and later the esteemed TV star and political operative relies on his old man, a career sanitation worker and newspaper truck driver, for advice. Big Russ and Me also traces Russert's life from working-class kid to one of broadcast journalism's top interviewers by introducing various influential figures who guided him along the way, including Jesuit teachers, nuns, his dad's drinking buddies, and, most notably, the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, whom Russert helped get elected in 1976. Plenty of entertaining anecdotes are served up along the way from schoolyard pranks to an attempt to book Pope John Paul II on the Today Show. Though not likely to revolutionize modern thought, Big Russ and Me will provide fathers and sons a chance to reflect on lessons learned between generations. --Charlie Williams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Meet the newsman's father in this stupendously entertaining book. The senior Tim Russert served in WWII, married and settled in South Buffalo, N.Y., worked days for the Sanitation Department, drove a night truck for the local evening paper and raised four kids. The younger Russert's memoir begins as a tribute to his dad and the lessons he taught through the years, but also takes ample time to tell how Russert junior grew up and became the moderator of Meet the Press. His neighborhood in the 1950s was tightly knit, Irish Catholic and anchored by the institutions of marriage, family, church and school. Nuns and Legionnaires shaped young Russert's character; in high school, his Jesuit instructors strengthened and solidified it. John Kennedy's short life and career still resonated when Russert began law school in 1970. He worked on Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1976 campaign, then on the senator's staff. A friend of Moynihan provided the link that brought Russert to NBC and the Today show. He first appeared as a panelist on Meet the Press in 1990, becoming moderator in 1991. Throughout his private and public life, Russert continually turned to his father for advice, and the older man's common sense served the younger pretty much without fail. The memoir is candid and generous, so warm-hearted that readers should forgive the occasional didactic touch (and it's a soft touch). There are hard ways to learn life lessons; fortunately, readers have Russert to thank for sharing his with them. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Tim Russert died unexpectedly on Friday, June 13, 2008. He was beloved by many and respected by many. He was one of the few political reporters that I believe gave us both sides of the story. He always spoke with eloquence and intelligence, and when he spoke, we listened.
"People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad." ~Marcel Proust
We all know Tim Russert as the moderator of "Meet the Press", and now we meet Tim Russert, son of Big Russ. Tim Russert tells the story of growing up in Buffalo, and how he grew to be the man he is today has much to do with the father he idolizes. His father is his hero. This is a story of love, family love, religious love, love of sports, love of people and love of life.
Much of this book has to do with the lessons learned at the knee of Big Russ. Big Russ was a hard worker- he loved his family, a wife and four children. Big Russ learned his love of life in the Army. He was in World War II and was badly injured in a plane accident. Big Russ learned valuable lessons that day- he was saved from certain death by another soldier who threw caution to the wind to save his brother soldier. Big Russ is a reticent man who does not talk much about his experiences, as is common with WWII soldiers. It took Tim Russert many years to learn about his dad and about his experiences in the Army. Tim Russert once said the person he most wanted to interview was his own dad!
Tim Russert had an idyllic childhood, but it was not an easy life. He worked hard at school and hard at home. He came from a family who loved him and taught him many lessons. The family was Catholic, and his entire education was completed at Jesuit's schools. Food was a big part of their life. Big Russ worked two jobs to give his family a home, clothing and food on the table. There is an entire chapter talking about the food of the Russert home and the food of Buffalo. The roast beef weck sandwich is one of the famous foods of Buffalo but it is the Buffalo chicken wings that are the best known.
Tim Russert goes on to tell about his life, college, law school, working for Senator Moynihan and Governor Cuomo. He was well liked and as always a very hard worker. His work with these politicians was noted, and he was picked by NBC to work in the news division. He became the news Director of the Washington Bureau, and was later asked to be the moderator of "Meet the Press". He has made "Meet the Press' the most popular Sunday political show on television. He credits his success to Big Russ who told him to be himself, and to always tell the truth, and to ask questions the little guys would ask.
Tim Russert met and married a reporter, Maureen Orth, in 1983, and in 1985 one of the most important days of his life occurred with the birth of his son, Luke. Luke is a much beloved son, and from the stories Tim Russert tells, we know that Luke must idolize his dad much as Tim does Big Russ.
Tim Russert has made a success of his life. He attributes much of his success to his father. Tim Russert can best describe his father with this sentence taken from Gail Godwin's book
"Father Melancholy's Daughter".
"He lived his life by the grace of daily obligations."
This is a book to be read again and again. Full of stories of hope and goodness and love and life. It is a feel good book. A story of the life of one of our best political reporters. I believe that Tim Russert is one of the most respected man in America.
Tim Russert told us that Bruce Springsteen was one of the people he most wanted to interview. He was able to make enough money selling Bruce Springsteen concert tickets to attend college. One of Springsteen's songs:got a song to sing, keep me out of the cold
And I'll meet you further on up the road.
Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Where the way dark and the night is cold
One sunny mornin' we'll rise I know
And I'll meet you further on up the road.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 2004
The author also spins a warmly entertaining chronicle of his youth, where the adults in his Irish-Catholic neighborhood served as an extended family; where the parochial schools he attended did as much to shape his character as build his intellect; and where, in the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, his own passion for politics was first awakened. Russert paints a rich, loving portrait of his first boss, New York Senator Pat Moynihan; remembers some highlights of his briefer tenure on the staff of New York Governor Mario Cuomo; and paints a lively portrait of his years at NBC News, first as a behind-the-scenes executive, and since 1991, host of Meet the Press. Along the way, he married and became a father of a son, Luke.
Russert is a natural-born storyteller. Recalling his feelings of inadequacy when he moved from Moynihan's Buffalo office to Washington, D.C. and found himself surrounded with Ivy League graduates, the senator warmly reassured him that he could learn what the others knew, but they would never have what he did. After all, the senator pointed out, none of them had ever worked on the back of a garbage truck--something that Big Russ did his entire working life and his son did during the summers of his college years.
This is a very personal story about one father and one son, but it's also a universal saga of all fathers and sons. I highly recommend it.--William C. Hall
That said, I found it to be a celebration of a man whose son is justifiably proud of him. Those of us whose fathers (and mothers) grew up in the depression and survived World War II understand and and admire that generation beyond words. Sometimes the writing is a little sappy, but who among us doesn't get sentimental about parents they loved and admired. Maybe I'm an easy sell because I see so much of my own father (he passed away in 1996), and maybe it is also because my son and I have a close relationship, and love and respect for each other unconditionally.
If you weren't as fortunate as Tim Russert and his father it might be difficult to relate to these feelings, but there is more, much more than that here, and whether or not you like Tim Russert personally, you have to admire his willingness to put himself out there knowing that some people will use it as an opportunity to take a swipe based not on the book but a polititical agenda.
How many of us get the chance to send such an amazing, loving tribute to our fathers, a public thank you for all he has done without ever expecting anything in return?
Thank you Tim.