Bob Schieffer started his reporting career in Texas when he was barely old enough to buy a beer, joined CBS News in 1969, and became one of the few correspondents ever to have covered all four major Washington beats: the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and Capitol Hill. Over the past four decades, he's seen it all-and now he's sharing the after-hours tales only his colleagues know.
It might not have occurred to anyone to clamor for longtime CBS reporter Schieffer's memoir, but now that it's in print, it makes for a highly engaging read. He's seen it all and has much wisdom about journalism and governance to impart. The book spans virtually every important domestic story of the past 40-odd years; among his captivating subjects are the 1962 integration of the University of Alabama, JFK's assassination, Vietnam, Nixon-era peace protests and Watergate. The book's emphasis changes subtly from events to personalities when Schieffer takes over Face the Nation. As the subtitle suggests, Schieffer wisely forgoes rehashing familiar tales like Watergate or the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal in favor of revealing the background action that went unreported at the time. He structures the book as a collection of anecdotes, and, unsurprisingly for such a seasoned pro, Schieffer has a sharp eye for intriguing details and an instinct for maintaining the proper focus on his subjects rather than on himself. When he does get personal, he admirably questions his occasional missteps in balancing family and career. The telling is so unfussy, modest and straightforward that it rarely prompts speculation about the juicy bits that he couldn't write in a book. Indeed, the work succeeds not only as a primer on broadcast journalism but also as an informal history of America over the past 40 years. Photos not seen by PW.