'Scotty: James B. Reston ...'
By: John F. Stacks
(Hardback / 384 Pages / Little Brown & Company / ISBN: 0316809853 / $29.95)
Description: James "Scotty" Reston was a reporter of amazing skill, a writer of easy and graceful prose, a shaper of public opinion, and a man who almost single-handedly revolutionized American journalism. The son of Scottish immigrants, his hustle and smarts eventually made him the single most important and influential columnist in America. Along the way he helped make "The New York Times" the greatest paper in the world. He was the first person presidents turned to when they wanted to confide, and the person they called late at night when something went wrong.
Verdict: As author John Stacks has long been one of my personal heroes, I was delighted to discover this marvelously told biography. For all those who finished Gay Talese's 'The Kingdom and the Power' and wanted more - and who didn't - 'Scotty' is the perfect tonic. As most biographies written by real journalists, instead of officious professors or other biographical dilitantes-and there are plenty of retired stock brokers out there pretenging to be writers-the power of this book is in the feel for anecdotes, the natural flow of the story and the strong simple prose. Best of all is the first few pages where Stacks sums up the reporting profession in a way not seen since Thomas Wolfe's description of the pack outside of a fire in "You Can't Go Home Again." Those few pages alone are worth double the modest purchase price. Most delightfully, I discovered in print, something Mr. Stacks had told me years ago, when as young wannabe reporter I stumbled into his office to seek his sage counsel. He told he then that for every page I wrote, I should read 100. That stuck in my memory and became something I have repeated hundreds of times, sometimes with credit to Stacks, sometimes without. Imagine my excitement at finding those very words of advice in this book. An excellent three day read.
Reviewed by Kim Eisler