In more than five decades as a reporter, editor and publisher, Peter Osnos had an especially good view of momentous events and relationships with some of the most influential personalities of our time. This is his memoir.
This book has many flaws, and Osnos admits that ... One problem is endemic to books of this sort. Many Washington luminaries think their memoirs are worth writing, and reading, but they’re often wrong. I think of these as 'Dinner With Dean' books, in which the author — with a healthy measure of self-satisfaction — describes meals he (and occasionally she) shared with the noteworthy and notorious, as in 'Then I had dinner with Dean Acheson.' (My reference to Acheson, secretary of state under Harry Truman, serves to date me, but the point is still valid.) Osnos falls frequently into this trope ... More serious is the lack of compelling insights into the people and events described here. Yes, Osnos had a good view of history in the making. But what did it all mean? ... The young journalists who covered Vietnam changed the entire relationship between working reporters and government officials, making it far more skeptical and less cozy, a tectonic shift that led to The Post’s courageous coverage of Watergate a few years later. Osnos has little to say on the matter ... One editor warned him that his memoir had to tell readers 'why they should bother.' He never really answers her question.
Yet it helps Mr. Osnos that we’re taught not to judge a book by its cover but by the pages within. And there he takes us on a personal journey, one that is often charming, and—true to the book’s subtitle, 'Watching History Happen'—brimming with ringside-stories from the world of journalism, letters and politics ... Mr. Osnos retraces every step of consequence in his life, returning not just to Vietnam, Moscow and London—where he was a correspondent for the Post—but also to his parents’ native Poland and to India.
A veteran journalist and editor shares a lifetime of dramatic career twists and turns ... Arranged chronologically and loaded with specifics, the narrative begins with the author’s childhood ... All of the author’s personal and professional landmarks feature colorful characters and vivid, passionate narration. Even midway through, it’s clear the book was a labor of love, though at times, his enthusiasm becomes excessively digressive. Much of the memoir’s charm comes from Osnos’ candor and energy, and he concludes with a deeply personal retrospective of thought, grateful reflection, and pictorial extras that both seasoned and aspiring journalists will appreciate. The meticulously detailed, inspiring journey of an American news reporter and publisher.