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Showing 1-10 of 23 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 38 reviews
on May 8, 2012
This is SUCH a wonderful book. I'm a journalism instructor/adviser, and I was lucky enough to be given an early copy by a friend in the press. I had been intrigued by some of the press coverage and was eager to see what the book had to say vs. the Washington press machine. Boy was I in for a treat. I can't think of the last time that I read a non-fiction book in basically one sitting. The content is incredible - just the primary material that Himmelman has found stands on its own. But what makes it so special is Himmelman's unique style. He manages to be at once totally historically and journalistically rigorous, and at the same time refreshingly casual and approachable as a narrator. He is unquestionably a character in the book - always a tough thing to pull off - but he finds the right balance between the moments of being a highly present narrator and moments of being a more removed guide through the primary materials.

I approached the book expecting to find the topic relevant given my professional life, but I really had no idea how totally enthralling the material would be. Himmelman took me on a complete journey through history, through emotions, and, most importantly, through Ben Bradlee's life. I am now dreaming about Bradlee's life and legacy, and I've only just begun to internalize the many lessons he teaches us about how to live life, how to lead, and how to stand up to power (even once you become part of the establishment). I know that I learned so very much, but it was so breezy along the way! I've never had such a pleasant experience reading a non-fiction biography.

I highly recommend this book, not just to journalism junkies like me, but to anyone looking for an enjoyable, enlightening read. But be prepared that once you start reading, you won't want to put it down. Kudos to Himmelman for this beautiful, personal portrait, as the subtitle very accurately advertises.
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on June 15, 2012
I purchased this book because I wanted to find out more about the life and career of Ben Bradlee. I had never even heard of him prior to reading his book "With Kennedy," but I found his and his wife's friendship with JFK and Jackie Kennedy to be fascinating. I wanted to read more about this and to learn more about the death of Bradlee's sister-in-law, Mary Meyer. "Yours in Truth: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee" provided all that information and more. The work is well-written, painstakingly and exhaustively researched and while it is clear that the author thinks very highly of Bradlee, he does not avoid discussion of negative incidents in Bradlee's life. Since Bradlee and The Washington Post are inseparable, the book contains a great deal of extremely interesting information about the Post, about Phil and Katharine Graham and other journalists and about the storied history of the competition between the Post and the New York Times. I highly recommend this book, which I found to be deeply engrossing and highly readable.
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on June 30, 2014
I've wanted to know more about Ben Bradlee's story since reading All the President's Men, though I knew there was much, much more to his professional life than simply being chief honcho at the Washington Post during the Watergate era. This book is well done and, at the same time, gave me an interesting, behind-the-curtain view of what it may be like to write someone's biography.

Himmelman's writing is polished and intelligent. I was drawn in as much by his authorial voice - by turns, intimate, straightforward, defensive, and funny - as I was by his narrative about Bradlee's life. And what a life it has been! Himmelman has excavated some fascinating nuggets about Bradlee and presents them beautifully. Only a couple of times did I find my attention wandering during yet another section about how cool & charming Bradlee is.

The section in Yours in Truth that caused such a stir revolves around Himmelman's presentation of two very interesting disclosures about Bradlee and his ace reporters, Woodward and Bernstein. The first revelation centers on Himmelman's discovery of proof that Woodward and Bernstein lied when they claimed that they never used a Watergate grand juror as a source in their Watergate reporting (the female juror is referred to as "Z"). Himmelman played sleuth, and it's nifty to read how he arrived at this revelation.

To my mind, the second revelation is less startling and perhaps less important, unless you're Bob Woodward: it involves Bradlee's admission to another biographer/interviewer in the early 1990s that he, Bradlee, had some wisps of doubt - "residual" unease - about minor details in Woodward's account in All the President's Men of his interactions with Deep Throat (spy-craft touches like Woodward's placing of a red flag in a potted plant outside his apartment when he wanted a meeting with Deep Throat AND Deep Throat's setting of a meeting time by drawing a clock on an inside page of Woodward's the New York Times).

To repeat, these details struck me as fairly minor in the grand scheme of Watergate and the WashPo's coverage of it. Bradlee has never, ever, given any indication that he questioned the veracity of Woodward's general reporting. But Himmelman has a sharp eye and plumbs Bradlee's quote about the "residual" unease to yield a heretofore unacknowledged truth about Bradlee.

Sometimes it's the tiny details - the stray comment, the white lie or lingering doubt, the seemingly insignificant action that may not line up neatly with the general narrative arc of someone's life - that say something important about an individual. In writing a biography of Bradlee, Himmelman draws our attention to the fact that when you get right down to it, human personality and individual experience are pretty murky regions.

As some readers may already know, Himmelman's decision to include these and a few other tidbits effectively torpedoed his relationships with Woodward as well as Bradlee and Sally Quinn. I can understand why they were infuriated. But I have to say that as a reader, I'm grateful for Himmelman's instinct toward fuller, rather than lesser, disclosure.
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on June 5, 2012
As an avid reader of the Washington POST since 1968, I was ready for a fresh perspective on what those tumultuous years of the early 1970s have meant for the craft of journalism. Himmelman's book gave me an exciting ride, Google Earth style, zooming in to reveal the grittiness of daily reporting and zooming out for a masterful overview of the August 9, 1974 edition announcing our country's first presidential resignation. Himmelman zooms even farther out to assess the role that Ben Bradlee played in building the POST into a great newspaper and how his legacy continues to exert a powerful influence. The alternation of primary source details with reflective interviews reminded me of the shifting perspectives in Colum McCann's novel, LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN. This novel focuses on August 7, 1974, the day before Nixon's resignation, and juxtaposes Philippe Petit's walk on a wire between the World Trade Center towers that day with the inter-related activities of several contemporary New Yorkers, contrasting overview with life on the streets. Nixon's resignation is a mere counterpoint in the New York drama, while in YOURS IN TRUTH, it is a dominating melody. Himmelman shows readers the complexities not only behind Watergate reporting, but also behind many subsequent stories in the POST. By exploring and analyzing the pursuit of truth at all levels--from new reporters to Executive Editors--this gifted biographer has made a significant contribution to journalism. His conclusions should be heeded by all who care about good government and the First Amendment.
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on March 25, 2014
As full a portrait of Bradlee as we're ever likely to get, thanks to the degree of access Himmelman was provided. In addition, Bob Woodward's brand of journalism, and his character, are touched on, providing some context for the reporter's work (with Carl Bernstein) on the Watergate scandal. That section, in itself, makes Himmelman's book worth the read. I highly recommend it.
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on May 8, 2012
Jeff Himmelman clearly came to know Ben Bradlee and his work better than even Ben's closest friends. He has read every letter and document and listened to every tape recording in Bradlee's vast archive. As a result, this book offers a fascinating insider's tour through some of our nation's most troubled times -- the only time when a president was forced to resign. It also offers a full understanding of the man himself and how his combination of genius, energy, and interpersonal skills allowed him to build a great American newspaper -- a feat we are unlikely to ever see again. Himmelman's discovery of Bradlee's doubts about the full truth of Woodward and Bernstein's explanation of their sources, especially his discovery that their source "Z" was a grand juror sworn to secrecy, notwithstanding Woodward's denials even as recently as last year, just adds to the strength of his portrait of Bradlee -- a man who could keep his focus on the all-important "big picture" despite a few doubts about the details. For anyone who lived through this time, this book is a must read -- it will trigger many memories. For those too young to have experienced it personally, it will provide crucial understandings of how our free press works in practice. For all readers, Himmelman's beautiful and sensitive writing will trigger may smiles and tears. (Thanks Amazon for your prompt delivery!)
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on September 13, 2012
It's a sort of shallow book about a sort of shallow person, a legend based on a movie. In truth, as the book shows, Bradlee rode one big story to glory while not noticeably --- outside the movie version --- paying that much attention to his newspaper. The Janet Cooke episode is inexcusable: An editor who spoke fluent French and had worked in Paris never exchanging a few pleasantries with his newest hot reporter and learning that she did not speak French at all despite her resume and thus, maybe, was not to be trusted. A newspaperman who suppressed the truth --- the diary about JFK --- and spent most of his time coddling the insecure butterfly Mrs. Graham. The author tries to put all this in an understanding light and fawns on Bradlee and the whole Washington Post culture --- kid gloves for Sally Quinn --- to which he owes his future employment. Once in a while, the reader can see a sense of honesty breaking through the miasma, but not often enough to make this trustworthy. We get it, we get it: Portrait of a Brahmin. Even in Boston, Brahmins don't cut it any longer.
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on January 16, 2013
Many fascinating anecdotes, but lacking distance from the subject. The author seems to have been too much of a Bradlee fan to provide balance.
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on September 10, 2012
"Yours In Truth" is one of those rare books that is both enlightening and entertaining - no easy feat! Bradlee lead an incredible life and the book keeps up with the reality. If you have an interest in Watergate, journalism, Kennedys, human interest, success, or even failure - this is a book for you.
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on June 20, 2012
Ben Bradley is one of the most interesting characters in modern journalism. I wish the book had more to say about Watergate but found it down to earth and full of good inside stories. Well worth the read
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