Cover image for Reporter : a memoir
Title:
Reporter : a memoir
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.

©2018
ISBN:
9780307263957
Physical Description:
355 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Target Audience:
1280 L
Language:
English
General Note:
Includes index.
Contents:
Getting started -- City news -- Interludes -- Chicago and the AP -- Washington, at last -- Bugs and a book -- A presidential campaign -- Going after the biologicals -- Finding Calley -- A national disgrace -- To The New Yorker -- Finally there -- Watergate, and much more -- Me and Henry -- The big one -- Off to New York -- Kissinger, again, and beyond -- A New Yorker reprise -- America's war on terror.
Abstract:
"A memoir of renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh's life as a reporter"-- Provided by publisher.

"From the Pulitzer-prize-winning, bestselling author and preeminent investigative journalist of our time--an intensely personal, revelatory memoir of a matchless career that has encompassed the most important stories of the last half century. Seymour M. Hersh's fearless reporting has earned him fame, front-page bylines in virtually every major newspaper in the free world, a staggering collection of awards, and no small amount of controversy. His story is, first and foremost, a story of fierce independence. Faced with pressure from corporate interests, the various muscular arms of government, and occasionally from outright criminals, Hersh has been relentless in his pursuit of truth and his belief in challenging the official narrative. We learn how he navigated through cover-ups, deceit, and ethical dilemmas in the morasses of war, espionage, and politics. He brings to light previously unknown details of his reporting on the atrocity at My Lai and the military's efforts to save face. He revisits the Watergate scandal; the CIA's missteps in Chile, Cuba, Panama, and elsewhere; the duplicity of Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney; and the path that took him to the revelations about Abu Ghraib. We come to see which lines he would cross and which he would not, how he employed the tools available to him, why the use of anonymous sources is vital to a free press, and why those sources must be protected at all costs. This book is an object lesson in reporting in its highest form. Hersh takes us from his youth on the South Side of Chicago, through the halcyon days of American newspaper journalism, to his eventual stints at The New York Times, The New Yorker, and beyond. Along the way, he offers illuminating recollections about some of the giants of American journalism: Ben Bradlee, A.M. Rosenthal, David Remnick, William Shawn, and Bob Woodward among them. In a time when good journalism--if not truth itself--is under fire as never before, Reporter is essential reading on the power of the printed word."
Lexile Measure:
1280
Personal Subject:
Holds:

Available:*

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Item Notes
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Book 070.92 HERSH 1 .SOURCE. INGRAM
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Book 92 HERSH, SEYMORE 1 .SOURCE. 07/18 BT
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Book BIOGRAPHY HERSH SEYMOUR 1 .SOURCE. BAKER AND TAYLOR
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Book BIOGRAPHY HERSH, S. 1 .SOURCE. BT 7-5-18
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Book BIOGRAPHY HERSH, S. 1 .SOURCE. BT 7-5-18
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Book PN4874.H473A3 2018 1
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Book PN4874.H473A3 2018 1
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On Order

Library
Copy
Status
Parts
Prescott Public Library1Received on 5/31/18
Prescott Valley Public Library1Received on 6/26/18

Summary

Summary

" Reporter is just wonderful. Truly a great life, and what shines out of the book, amid the low cunning and tireless legwork, is Hersh's warmth and humanity. This book is essential reading for every journalist and aspiring journalist the world over." --John le Carré

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author and preeminent investigative journalist of our time --a heartfelt, hugely revealing memoir of a decades-long career breaking some of the most impactful stories of the last half-century, from Washington to Vietnam to the Middle East.

Seymour Hersh's fearless reporting has earned him fame, front-page bylines in virtually every major newspaper in the free world, honors galore, and no small amount of controversy. Now in this memoir he describes what drove him and how he worked as an independent outsider, even at the nation's most prestigious publications. He tells the stories behind the stories -- riveting in their own right -- as he chases leads, cultivates sources, and grapples with the weight of what he uncovers, daring to challenge official narratives handed down from the powers that be. In telling these stories, Hersh divulges previously unreported information about some of his biggest scoops, including the My Lai massacre and the horrors at Abu Ghraib. There are also illuminating recollections of some of the giants of American politics and journalism: Ben Bradlee, A. M. Rosenthal, David Remnick, and Henry Kissinger among them. This is essential reading on the power of the printed word at a time when good journalism is under fire as never before.


Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Morey, with his mature and confident voice, is a convincing stand-in for journalist Hersh in the audio edition of Hersh's memoir. The book recounts Hersh's storied career as an investigative reporter, from his Pulitzer-winning report on the 1968 massacre of Vietnamese civilians by American troops at My Lai, up through more recent exposés, including that of the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib military prison. Morey's vocal delivery has the perfect tone and timbre to tell Hersh's story. His reading conveys Hersh with conviction as he recounts how the reporter doggedly follows lead after lead in his efforts to get to the truth of a story. Morey's skillful narration of Hersh's life makes for an excellent listening experience. A Knopf hardcover. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Perhaps he had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Perhaps it was his reporter's well-honed instinct for a great story. Whatever the reason, Hersh became a pioneer in the field of investigative journalism, garnering a reputation for uncompromising adherence to truth and tireless quest for accountability in the often duplicitous realms of national security and politics. Hersh's persistent reporting peeled back the veneers masking some of the most controversial issues of our time, from the Vietnam War massacre at My Lai to the Iraq War military atrocities at Abu Ghraib. In this candid and revelatory memoir, Hersh chronicles his evolution as a reporter in both style and substance, focusing on his dogged pursuit of leads, nuanced cultivation of reliable resources, and often fraught relationship with editors, colleagues, and critics. Compared to the contemporary field of blogs, bots, and opinion-driven reportage, the last half of the twentieth-century can look like the heyday of honest and critical journalism. But Hersh remains at the vanguard of tenacious and purposeful writers who speak truth to power, and surely he's inspiring the best at work now. Journalism junkies will devour this insider's account of a distinguished career.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

THE PISCES, by Melissa Brodér. (Hogarth, $25.) In Broder's charmingly kooky debut novel, a depressed Ph.D. student chances upon her dream date - and he's half fish. Brodér approaches the great existential subjects as if they were a collection of bad habits. That's what makes her writing so funny, and so sad. KUDOS, by Rachel Cusk. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) As she did in the first two volumes of this spare, beautiful trilogy, Cusk illuminates her narrator's inner life via encounters with others. The novels describe in haunting detail what it's like to walk through the world, trailing ashes after your life goes up in flames. SHE HAS HER MOTHER'S LAUGH: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity, by Carl Zimmer. (Dutton, $30.) Zimmer does a deep dive into the question of heredity, exploring everything from how genetic ancestry works to the thorny question of how race is defined, biologically. The book is Zimmer at his best: obliterating misconceptions about science in gentle prose. FRENEMIES: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else), by Ken Auletta. (Penguin Press, $30.) Advertising has lost its luster in recent decades - in part because of the dependency and competition between ad agencies and Silicon Valley, one of many "frenemy" relationships Auletta details. BAD BLOOD: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou. (Knopf, $27.95.) Elizabeth Holmes and her startup, Theranos, perpetrated one of the biggest scams in the history of Silicon Valley, raising millions for a medical device that never really existed. Carreyrou's account reads like a thriller. REPORTER: A Memoir, by Seymour M. Hersh. (Knopf, $27.95.) In Hersh's long, distinguished and controversial career he exposed brutality, deception, torture, illegal surveillance and much else. His memoir about knocking on doors in the middle of the night and reading documents upside down can be considered a master class in the craft of reporting. THE GIRL FROM KATHMANDU: Twelve Dead Men and a Woman's Quest for Justice, by Cam Simpson. (Harper/ HarperCollins, $27.99.) Simpson, an investigative reporter, retraces the journey of 12 laborers from their Nepal homes to their deaths by terrorists in Iraq while en route to an American military base. THE PERFECTIONISTS: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World, by Simon Winchester. (Harper/HarperCollins, $29.99.) This eclectic history celebrates feats of engineering while asking if imperfection might have a place. THE DEATH OF DEMOCRACY: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic, by Benjamin Carter Hett. (Holt, $30.) Hett's sensitive study of Germany's collapse into tyranny implies that Americans today should be vigilant. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books


Guardian Review

The reporter who exposed the My Lai massacre and the CIA’s illegal domestic spying in the 1970s continues to be a rebel outsider “Give me a break!” were the first words Lieutenant William Calley Jr, accused of killing 109 Vietnamese civilians, said to Seymour Hersh when the intrepid reporter finally found him. It had not been an easy task for Hersh, who had been chasing the story for weeks. In the hunt for Calley he had driven to Fort Benning, Georgia, scoured (without success) endless volumes of phone directories, broken into a military barracks and pretended to be a lawyer. When he finally did find Calley, the last thing he was willing to give him was a break. That initial story of what had happened at My Lai, and how complicit the US army had been in the killing of civilians, came after an all-night, bourbon-fuelled interview, at the end of a months-long quest. But Hersh was not about to catch a break either. Instead, there was a surly lesson: the truth, however doggedly procured, does not guarantee publication. His story, which would eventually win him the Pulitzer prize in 1970, was rejected not by one or two but three magazine editors. Hersh, understandably, was “devastated by the amount of self-censorship” he was encountering in his profession. Indeed, he would find a lawyer before he would find a publisher, and the latter was Hersh’s 23-year-old next-door neighbour. Yet, for all its birthing pains, the story of the My Lai massacre put Hersh among the big boys (and they were at the time mostly boys; the first female name, that of New York Times journalist Gloria Emerson, doesn’t appear in this book until page 161). Not just the Pulitzer but other awards came his way, but a job was less forthcoming, and it took the publication of his second book on the massacre to get that. His exposé, which was verified by subsequent accounts, had by then been verified by many others who came forward. It had not stopped the war, but it certainly forced a reckoning. Later Hersh got more prestigious reporting gigs, at the New Yorker first and then the New York Times. His reputation as a rebel went with him. In one telling and startling exchange, Abe Rosenthal of the New York Times comes up behind him in the newsroom, ruffles his hair and says: “How’s my little commie?” It is a supposedly gentle reminder that Hersh was not to let his feelings about the war get in the way of his reporting of it. The truth, as he notes in Reporter, that his feelings about the war didn’t begin with ideology, seemed not to matter. It is perhaps inevitable that the reminiscences of a journalist who has been so long at the craft promote the idea that nothing, in journalism or elsewhere, ever quite changes. So it was with one of Hersh’s biggest post-My Lai stories. In 1974, after some nocturnal squabbling with Rosenthal over length, the New York Times published Hersh’s exposé of CIA domestic spying. Instrumental in the programme was James Jesus Angleton, “a fabled character inside the CIA”, known “for his belief that the Russians had completely penetrated the Agency and for his willingness to investigate anyone”. Few were pleased with Hersh’s revelations; the incensed right denounced him as a “Red”. It wasn’t until 11 September 2001 that Hersh underwent, in the words of the same paper, an “evolution” (the article also pointed out that some of the “most controversial and startling information” that appeared in the tumultuous months after 9/11 had done so under his byline). Yes, his “critical books on Henry A Kissinger, the Central Intelligence Agency and John F Kennedy” had made him “a permanent outsider”. But his attitude to the CIA had “shifted. In 1974, he exposed it as an out-of-control, rogue agency illegally spying on Americans. Now, through his eyes, it seems emasculated, Prometheus bound by bureaucrats”. Hersh had been arguing in the New Yorker that the CIA was just “not up to the job”. His “major” stories from the war on terror era show an even balance between those that focus on not trusting other countries (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel) and ones that consider American overreach (Dick Cheney’s obsession with bombing Iran, the CIA’s obsession with supporting Israel against Hamas). But whether Hersh intends it or not, by the end of Reporter there is a sense of having come full circle. One of the last stories, whose investigation he describes here, is of the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden. According to Hersh’s sources in Pakistan, the Obama administration, eager for a rousing military victory to carry them through the 2012 election, worked with the Pakistanis who had, in Hersh’s telling, long kept Bin Laden captive. Then, at the last moment, the administration carried out the raid themselves, betraying the very people that had helped them set it up. David Remnick, then Hersh’s editor at the New Yorker, refused to publish, pointing to a lack of reliable information. Hersh later learned that the magazine had committed to another story written from the perspective of one of the Navy Seals who took part in the raid. (His piece was eventually published by the London Review of Books.) So the point Hersh makes about journalism and self-censorship early in these pages echoes again in the last. His anger now cooled, he sums it up: “editors get tired of difficult stories and difficult reporters”. What he, in his moment of equanimity leaves out, is that it is just those stories written by just those reporters that readers want, and of which they never tire. - Rafia Zakaria.


Kirkus Review

One of the most skilled investigative journalists in American history shares his saga in compelling detail.Hersh (The Killing of Osama bin Laden, 2016, etc.), who has won seemingly every major literary award and is often portrayed as gruffly relentless, shows his charming side as he recounts his Chicago childhood with a small-businessman father, a quietly supportive mother, and three siblingsa twin brother and twin sisters. A quick learner with a restless curiosity, Hersh began and abandoned several career paths while attending college. He slipped into a low-paying, unglamorous journalism job in Chicago, departed and returned to that career path several times, and then needed to figure out what to do after completing "six months as a grunt in the U.S. Army," which "was not a transformative experience." The city boy became a rural journalist in South Dakota, where his reporting initiative led to a book about controversial chemical and biological weapons, freelance investigative exposs about massacres of Vietnamese civilians by American troops (reporting that led to his Pulitzer Prize in 1970), and, in 1972, a position at the New York Times as a reporter with the Washington bureau. Hersh takes readers behind the scenes as he exposes corrupt U.S. foreign policy, Defense Department bumbling in numerous wars, political coverups during Watergate, private sector corporate scandals, and torture tactics used by the U.S. government against alleged terrorists after 9/11. The author shares insightful (and sometimes searing) anecdotes about fellow journalists, presidents and their cronies, military generals, and numerous celebrities. Readers interested in a primer about investigative techniques will find Hersh a generous teacher. He explains why he tends to be a loner, zigging when other journalists are zagging. Hersh discloses little about his wife and children, but otherwise, candor is the driving force in this outstanding book.Rarely has a journalist's memoir come together so well, with admirable measures of self-deprecation, transparent pride, readable prose style, and honesty. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Recounting the story behind the story, running on conviction and sheer stubbornness, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hersh's investigation of the 1968 My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. troops in South Vietnam and the case against army officer William Calley Jr. often reads like a case study in how to write a political thriller. Between racing through military training camps, hand-copying files, and fighting skeptics, Hersh's account reveals the level of persistence that drives award-winning journalism. Going beyond the business of news, Hersh offers an insider look at Washington politics, recounting the people (Kissinger, Nixon) and events (Vietnam, Watergate) that put his stories on the front page, ending with a review of the War on Terror and reporting post-9/11. As Hersh notes, he is a "survivor from the golden age of journalism." VERDICT A fascinating look at an era when quality reporting was the result of will and determination (and knowing the right contacts). An excellent choice for readers interested in late 20th-century politics.-Gricel Dominguez, Florida International Univ. Lib., Miami © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Introduction I am a survivor from the golden age of journalism, when reporters for daily newspapers did not have to compete with the twenty-four-hour cable news cycle, when newspapers were flush with cash from display advertisements and want ads, and when I was free to travel anywhere, anytime, for any reason, with company credit cards. There was sufficient time for reporting on a breaking news story without having to constantly relay what was being learned on the newspaper's web page. There were no televised panels of "experts" and journalists on cable TV who began every answer to every question with the two deadliest words in the media world--"I think." We are sodden with fake news, hyped-up and incomplete information, and false assertions delivered nonstop by our daily newspapers, our televisions, our online news agencies, our social media, and our President. Yes, it's a mess. And there is no magic bullet, no savior in sight for the serious media. The mainstream newspapers, magazines, and television networks will continue to lay off reporters, reduce staff, and squeeze the funds available for good reporting, and especially for investigative reporting, with its high cost, unpredictable results, and its capacity for angering readers and attracting expensive lawsuits. The newspapers of today far too often rush into print with stories that are essentially little more than tips, or hints of something toxic or criminal. For lack of time, money, or skilled staff, we are besieged with "he said, she said" stories in which the reporter is little more than a parrot. I always thought it was a newspaper's mission to search out the truth and not merely to report on the dispute. Was there a war crime? The newspapers now rely on a negotiated United Nations report that comes, at best, months later to tell us. And have the media made any significant effort to explain why a UN report is not considered to be the last word by many throughout the world? Is there much critical reporting at all about the UN? Do I dare ask about the war in Yemen? Or why Donald Trump took Sudan off his travel ban list? (The leadership in Khartoum sent troops to fight in Yemen on behalf of Saudi Arabia.) My career has been all about the importance of telling important and unwanted truths and making America a more knowledgeable place. I was not alone in making a difference; think of David Halberstam, Charley Mohr, Ward Just, Neil Sheehan, Morley Safer, and dozens of other first-rate journalists who did so much to enlighten us about the seamy side of the Vietnam War. I know it would not be possible for me to be as freewheeling in today's newspaper world as it was until a decade ago, when the money crunch began. I vividly remember the day when David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, called in 2011 to ask if I could do an interview with an important source by telephone rather than fly three thousand miles to do one in person. David, who did everything possible to support my reporting on the Abu Ghraib prison horror in 2004--he paid dearly to enable me to publish reporting pieces in three consecutive issues--made his plea to me in what I thought was a pained, embarrassed voice, almost a whisper. Where are the tough stories today about America's continuing Special Forces operations and the never-ending political divide in the Middle East, Central America, and Africa? Abuses surely continue-- war is always hell--but today's newspapers and networks simply cannot afford to keep correspondents in the field, and those that do-- essentially The New York Times, where I worked happily for eight years in the 1970s, constantly making trouble--are not able to finance the long-term reporting that is needed to get deeply into the corruption of the military or intelligence world. As you will read herein, I spent two years before I was able to learn what I needed to report on the CIA's illegal domestic spying in the 1960s and 1970s. I do not pretend to have an answer to the problems of our media today. Should the federal government underwrite the media, as England does with the BBC? Ask Donald Trump about that. Should there be a few national newspapers financed by the public? If so, who would be eligible to buy shares in the venture? This is clearly the time to renew the debate on how to go forward. I had believed for years that all would work out, that the failing American newspapers would be supplanted by blogs, online news collectives, and weekly newspapers that would fill in the blanks on local reporting as well as on international and national news, but, despite a few successes--VICE, BuzzFeed, Politico, and Truthout come to mind--it isn't happening; as a result, the media, like the nation, are more partisan and strident. So, consider this memoir for what it is: an account of a guy who came from the Midwest, began his career as a copyboy for a small agency that covered crime, fires, and the courts there, and eleven years later, as a freelance reporter in Washington working for a small antiwar news agency, was sticking two fingers in the eye of a sitting president by telling about a horrific American massacre, and being rewarded for it. You do not have to tell me about the wonder, and the potential, of America. Perhaps that's why it's very painful to think I might not have accomplished what I did if I were at work in the chaotic and unstructured journalism world of today. Of course I'm still trying. Excerpted from Reporter: A Memoir by Seymour M. Hersh All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.