Synopses & Reviews
When President Kennedy finished his most difficult meeting ever with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, the first person he talked to was not one of his advisers, not his vice president, and not his wife. Walking out of the meeting, still steamed and shocked, Kennedy spoke first with James Reston.
And so it was for others, for president after president, from Truman through Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, and Carter. James Reston was the most powerful, most admired, most influential newspaper columnist America had ever seen, the best journalist of his time, and perhaps the best of any time. Reston, who emigrated from Scotland as a boy, tapped into his vast reserves of intelligence, hustle, and ambition to rise steadily up the New York Times ranks, and helped make it the greatest paper in the world. As a writer, he was read by more Americans than any other single writer on public affairs. As a talent spotter, he brought into the Times a galaxy of future stars. He was the model of what a young journalist wanted to become: wise, fair, able to speak in his own voice, and so well respected by those in power that he was routinely granted access to the greatest secrets of the world he covered.
But in time, some of Reston's greatest virtues would become liabilities, and proximity to power would take its toll. And thus Reston's story encompasses not only the life of one great man, but also the rise and fall of American journalism. More than brilliant biography, Scotty is a secret history of one man's life, of what went on behind closed Washington doors, of the stories that shaped our world and the stories that never made the papers.
"Scotty is more than just fascinating biography of the most powerful journalist in postwar America. The book is a nuanced history of the rise and decline of Washington punditry." Richard Reeves, author of President Nixon: Alone in the White House
"This colorful biography of a great newspaperman takes us back to the time when top journalists had a close access to and understanding of people in power. Stacks fully understands the dangers of such intimacy, but he also shows how the trust that James Reston earned allowed him to cover Washington with a subtlety that is sometimes missing these days. Through Reston's fascinating life, Stacks provides wonderful insights on leaders from Kennedy to Kissinger as well as the inside workings of the New York Times." Walter Isaacson, Chairman of CNN and author of Kissinger: A Biography
"This is an analytical biography of a man who was the nation's preeminent journalist for a generation by an author who himself became one of the leaders in the field. The result is a lively, instructive account of the way power is reported in America, and how the turbulence of the civil rights era and Vietnam changed the rules." Charles Eisendrath, Director, Michigan Journalism Fellows Program
"A straightforward biography, well researched and competently written." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
John F. Stacks reported for Time for three decades. He supervised the magazine's coverage of Watergate as Washington news editor and later served as chief of correspondents and deputy managing editor. He lives in New York.