March 24, 1996 in Features

Ben Bradlee Tells Of His Life In News Business

Alan Gersten Journal Of Commerce

“A Good Life” By Ben Bradlee (Simon & Schuster, 514 pages)

In his new book, “A Good Life,” Ben Bradlee, recently retired executive editor of The Washington Post, gives us an insider’s view of news and newsmakers, including President Nixon, CIA Director William Casey and National Security Council chief John Poindexter.

The memoirs of a notable Washington journalist like Bradlee should give the reader a glimpse not only of the individual but of the events that shaped the political life around him. Bradlee’s book does not disappoint on that score.

There are, however, a couple of minor annoyances. First, Bradlee lacerates a readable story with such hackneyed phrases “not to put too fine a point on it,” “well down the totem pole” and “a piece of cake.” He could have used help from editors of The Post’s own Style section, which he had made into a paradigm of writing excellence.

His lengthy, largely self-serving, often verbatim account of the praise lavished on him at his retirement party also would have benefited from a more discerning editor. This does indicate, perhaps, how big an ego it takes to run The Post.

But on the whole Bradlee tells an interesting tale of a period that marks a watershed in the post-World War II history of the United States and of American journalism at its best.

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