October 06, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures

Current Status
In Season
Ben Bradlee
Memoir, Pop Culture
We gave it an A

”Count the nuns, and multiply by a hundred” was John F. Kennedy’s suggested method for estimating his campaign crowds, and Bradlee, America’s quintessential newspaperman, was there to hear him say so. Bradlee was always wherever ”there” happened to be. He led The Washington Post through the treacherous swamps of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, and his autobiography is studded with close-ups of Washington politics, JFK (including a description of Jackie after the assassination that will haunt you), how news stories are born and nurtured, and incredible short tales — such as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s possible vote fixing to offset Republican shenanigans in southern Illinois, a police department’s appalling use of an 11-year-old girl as bait for a rapist, and the outrageous men’s-room duties of D.C.’s vice squad. Journalist Bob Woodward noted the ”excellence, the fun, the decency, the toughness, and the empathy” of his boss Bradlee — and that’s a perfect description of this wonderful autobiography. A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures will make adults want to switch careers and kids want to grow up to be reporters. A

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