Yours in Truth
A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee
By Jeff Himmelman
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400068470, 512pp.)
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
List Price: $27.00*
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“I hope we’re as good friends when you finish your book as we are now,” Ben Bradlee, the legendary former executive editor of The Washington Post, told Jeff Himmelman in March 2010. “But I don’t give a [expletive deleted] what you write about me.”
So begins Yours in Truth, an intimate portrait of a fixture on the American scene for nearly half a century—a close friend to John F. Kennedy; the center of D.C. social life; and a crusty, charismatic editor whose decisions at the helm of the Post during Watergate changed the course of history. Granted unprecedented access to Bradlee and his colleagues, friends, and private files, Himmelman draws on never-before-seen internal Post memos, correspondence, personal photographs, and private interviews to trace the full arc of Bradlee’s forty-five-year career—from his early days as a press attaché in postwar Paris through the Pentagon Papers, Richard Nixon’s resignation, the Janet Cooke fabrication scandal, and beyond. Along the way, Himmelman also unearths a series of surprises—about Watergate, and about Bradlee’s private relationships with Post owner Katharine Graham and President Kennedy and his wife, Jackie.
“Don’t feel that you have to protect me,” Bradlee told Himmelman whenever the reporting started to strike close to home. “Follow your nose.” Those instructions, familiar to any Post reporter, have resulted in this thoughtfully constructed and beautifully written account of a magnetic man whose career has come to define the golden age of newspapers in America, when the press battled for its freedom—and won.
“The absolute best nonfiction book of the year . . . a work of journalistic art . . . history straight and true . . . should be required reading at the Columbia School of Journalism.”—Chicago Tribune
Jeff Himmelman has worked on two national bestsellers, Bob Woodward’s Maestro and Tim Russert’s Big Russ & Me, and was the co-author of A Different Life with Quinn Bradlee. He has written for The Washington Post and The New York Times Magazine; his work with Woodward and a team of other reporters helped The Post secure the national reporting Pulitzer Prize for its post-9/11 coverage. He is also a professional musician who writes, records, and performs under the name Down Dexter. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.