– A biography, par excellence! - Forsyth, GA
Reference Information for the Book
- Name of Book:Murrow: His Life & Times
- Author Name:A.M. Sperber
- Publisher: Freundlich Books, NY, © A.M. Sperber, 1986
- Year Released and/or ISBN Number:
Type of Book
About the Writing
- This narrative is documented like no other book I ever read. Eerily, when I was reading the final chapter of this book Fox News announced Walter Cronkite's death at 92 in his home in NY. Murrow, a journalistic legend, lived 57 years, was taken by cancer, and was a voice known to the world in a career spanning from The New Deal to Tonkin, in the watershed years of World War II and after. He contended on Radio, on the Screen, and in the News, and in private with the questions of his time about: witchunts (the McCarthy era), the birth of the arms race in the cold war, and worldwide military commitments. His life was filled with travel, reporting, managing, writing, announcing and Sperber's documented account in the 793 page tome tells of an era that is gone forever. Cronkite's death, July 2009, puts a bookend on journalism standards that we seem to have turned our backs on in the 21st century.
Who is Murrow the man?
- "The public persona was readily identifiable. Jack Gould in the New York Times, called him the, 'man who put the spine in broadcasting,' who extended almost single-handedly the perimeters of broadcast freedom. "There is not a commentator on any network who will not agree that whatever he is privileged to say today in no small part is due to Murrow," writes Sperber in his forward of the book. Theodore White wrote in 1972:
"Murrow bequeathed a sense of conscience and importance with which neither management nor government might interfere…. And at CBS, a huge corporation more vulnerable than most to government pressure and Washington reprisal, he…. Left behind a tradition that the reporting of news. . . was to be, not what management sought to make it. . . . It was as inconceivable for [Paley and Stanton] to lift the telephone and tell a Cronkite or a Sevareid what to say as, for example the Elector of Saxony to tell Johann Sebastian Bach how to compose his music. . . .
Some Quotes about the Book
- ---NEIL HICKEY, Columbia Journalism Review: "MURROW: His Life & Times, is a work of such enormity in its heft and scope that surely no one need ever again be tempted to essay a biography of the apotheosized journalist whose spirit is still involved. . . whenever the glories, the depredations, and the promise of television news come up for argument. . . . What a man. What a life. What a book." DAN RATHER, "MURROW is splendid. . . . The book brings Edward R. Morrow and his legacy alive. It is the definitive work and in my opinion Pulitzer material." BILL MOYERS ---" . . . . Strikes me as the definitive biography. This book. . . rich in tapestry woven from intensive research. . . captures the story of the medium of which Murrow was the first master."
Why I Enjoyed Reading the Book
- This mountain of facts helped me recall my life step by step from the early 40's to the 60's and it set in place what I was doing during those tumultuous years. There were times in the book where the detail was ponderous and the author was a little short on fill-in narrative but the last half of the book flowed better than the first half. I had already read the biography of Howard K. Smith and so I was keen to compare the two in my memory. This book was as informative as it was entertaining while taking a long walk down memory lane with the thoughts of my parents and their conversations in those days.
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
When one ponders the deluge of information thrust upon us today, 24/7, and the veracity, or lack thereof, which is often wanton, the standard set by Murrow placed the bar much higher then it is now in my opinion. They had their scandals back then, like the $64,000 question show, and it had a devastating effect on broadcast television back then. The transition between TV and Radio from a production perspective was contrasted in great detail in this writing. The ugliest part of the rendition was how the mendacity and the greed overcame the executive management of the networks as they experienced the enormous profits to be had in Television production in all forms. This book has tremendous parallels with today's times and where our country is headed today from both a historical perspective, as well as the journalistic mindset.