Beware of Limbo Dancers (Hardcover)

A Correspondent’s Adventures with the New York Times

By Roy Reed

University of Arkansas Press, 9781557289889, 257pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2012

List Price: 34.95*
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This witty, wide-ranging memoir from Roy Reed--a native Arkansan who became a reporter for the New York Times--begins with tales of the writer's formative years growing up in Arkansas and the start of his career at the legendary Arkansas Gazette. Reed joined the New York Times in 1965 and was quickly thrust into the chaos of the Selma, Alabama, protest movement and the historical interracial march to Montgomery. His story then moves from days of racial violence to the political combat of Washington. Reed covered the Johnson White House and the early days of the Nixon administration as it wrestled with the competing demands of black voters and southern resistance to a new world. The memoir concludes with engaging postings from New Orleans and London and other travels of a reporter always on the lookout for new people, old ways, good company, and fresh outrages.

About the Author

Roy Reed was a reporter from 1956 to 1978, after which he taught journalism at the University of Arkansas for sixteen years. He is the author of two books: "Looking for Hogeye" and "Faubus: The Life and Times of an American Prodigal," and he is the editor of "Looking Back at the Arkansas Gazette: An Oral History."

Praise For Beware of Limbo Dancers: A Correspondent’s Adventures with the New York Times

"Retired New York Times reporter Reed (Faubus: The Life and Times of an American Prodigal, 1997, etc.), born in 1930, recounts his journey through a range of controversial stories. He briefly discusses his Arkansas childhood, his education at the University of Missouri Journalism School and his journey from small-town reporting to the Times. Although he thought he understood the Southern mentality on race, Reed learned that the relatively mild racism of his childhood did not compare to the more virulent brand in the Deep South, including Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Rather than letting his personal beliefs guide his reporting, Reed disciplined himself to get along with everybody as much as possible; publishing an important, clear story trumped individual glory for journalistic scoops. In addition to reporting about race in the South, Reed served as a London correspondent for the Times, as well as a Washington, D.C., correspondent—a position that often seemed more disorienting that an overseas posting. During the full term of Lyndon Johnson, Reed covered White House politics intensely. When Hubert Humphrey, Johnson's vice president, tried to replace his boss in the White House, Reed wrote about the 1968 presidential campaign almost every day. When Republican Richard Nixon prevailed, the author had to become accustomed to dealing professionally with a president quite different from the Democratic candidate. A compelling tour of a journalist’s life from an intelligent, charming guide." --Kirkus Reviews, Aug. 2012

"Roy Reed's prose delivers our most turbulent years in the civil rights movement with a ringing clarity. His memoir is a tapestry of anecdote, personal observation, characterization, major event, and constant insight as we ride along with this New York Times reporter through some of our nation's darkest history." --William Harrison, author of Rollerball

"Roy was one of our best writers at the Arkansas Gazette, and with this book he once again gives us a fine piece of writing." --Charles Portis, author of True Grit

"Roy Reed's latest book is a gem and cements his position as one of the South's most important writers of nonfiction. It meanders gracefully and brilliantly through some of twentieth-century America's most significant events." --Gene Roberts, Pulitzer Prize–winning coauthor of The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation

"Reporting keeps lively for a long time when it's this good, this seasoned, this much from the thick of things, and this funny." --Roy Blount Jr., author of Alphabetter Juice