Brinkley is America's Historian and certainly has the resources to get us both the overall story and the inside scoop. The book is full of fascinating info on Walter Cronkite from archival sources and the subject's family, professional associates, and friends. It offers particularly juicy gossip about Cronkite's last years and his disdain for CBS and Dan Rather. It is worth reading for the information it provides about Uncle Walter's life and his opinions about newsmakers and the news.
But beware: this is not the quality of book one ever would expect to have been produced by a professional historian and writer, especially one with Brinkley's reputation. It is jarring and disappointing to think that Brinkley; his publisher; his associates; and Cronkite's family and influential admirers would let this extraordinarily sloppy book be published in its current state. Brinkley and his publisher have made a terrible mistake by releasing this book prematurely. That respected reviewers lead the book-buying public to believe the book is ready for prime time is an insult to both Cronkite and the reader.
This book is the most poorly edited biography I ever have read. It smacks of having been thrown together to meet a deadline. Opinion routinely is stated as fact (eg, "Brokaw of NBC News, as always, cut to the core of Cronkite adeptly"). Writing is sloppy (eg, "No television correspondent had covered civil rights or went after Nixon with more doggedness."). Nonsensical assertions abound (eg, "Cronkite's death was a national embarrassment because of how badly TV journalism had fared in his absence.") Proofreading is haphazard (eg, "Silver Seas" instead of Silversea). Non-sequitors are littered throughout (eg, "With an extra-high regard for scientists and professors, he visited the far reaches of the planet, trying to learn about the historic world..."). Wording is sometimes nonsensical ("and a colorful look at Mars photographs taken by Viking spacecraft in the 1970s"). Extraneous information unnecessarily diverts the reader (eg, "To Amanpour, just back in New York from Afghanistan [where she filmed the documentary Generation Islam about the lives of young Muslims]. Cronkite's life wasn't about anchoring the CBS News..." )
The book screams for a final edit. Until and unless it gets one, I give it an F for publication quality.
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