Marvin Kalb, the award-winning journalist who has written extensively about the world he reported on during his long career, now turns his eye on the young man who became that journalist. Chosen by legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow to become one of what came to be known as the Murrow Boys, Kalb in this newest volume of his memoirs takes readers back to his first days as a journalist, and what also were the first days of broadcast news.
Now Marvin Kalb, himself 90 but acute as ever, has written a memoir of his early career, especially his years as Moscow correspondent for CBS News in the direst period of the Cold War. His earnest and discursive Assignment Russia will be a nostalgic treat for older readers. For younger ones it’s a wake-up call about what they’re missing in their daily feeds of cable news, Facebook, Twitter and the clamorous rest.
In Assignment Russia: Becoming a Foreign Correspondent in the Crucible of the Cold War, Kalb, now 90 years old, effectively transports the reader to a historical period that will soon be lost to living memory. His narrative offers behind-the-scenes glimpses into the functioning of journalism and diplomacy in a three-year period when both were undergoing sea changes ... The Kalb of the book is so young, earnest and anxious about making good in his new field that every assignment manages to inspire genuine suspense ... From the preface, the reader knows to expect a hagiographic treatment of Murrow, as well as an abiding faith in the power of journalism and a romantic view of American democracy ... The book ends in the spring of 1961 with Kalb turning down Murrow’s request to join him at the U.S. Information Agency. Kalb decided to remain in Moscow, his dream assignment, for two more years. And that, he promises, is the subject of the next memoir.
In his latest detailed chronicle, which [Kalb] aptly calls 'a long letter home after an unforgettable personal adventure,' the author moves forward from his time as a young diplomatic attaché at the American Embassy in Moscow in 1956 ... Kalb’s fond, generous memoir, which vividly delineates a bygone era of early journalism, will appeal to students of 20th-century American history as well as aspiring broadcast journalists. The author was involved in many significant Cold War moments, and he brings us directly into that world. Hopefully Kalb is back at his desk; readers will be eager for the next volume.