Monday, February 13, 2017

The Good Times

By Russell Baker

The sequel to Growing Up starts with young Russell getting his first job in the newspaper business: newspaper boy.
World War II intervenes and college, but he gets a job working for the hometown paper, The Baltimore Sun. He was assigned to the police beat, a common assignment for beginners.
He didn't really like the job, but it was a good way to learn the newspaper business. Money was a problem as the Sun did not pay its people well and Baker was desirous of getting married.
Baker didn't have to labor long on the police beat. Before much longer, he was in London, covering the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and living on an expense account. This experience he characterized as the best year of his life. Apparently, everything that followed just didn't measure up.
After London, he went on the White House Press Corps and eventually to working as a reporter for The New York Times.  He moved from being a reporter to being a columnist and father to three children. All in all, he had a very successful career, even to winning the Pulitzer Prize. But the best year of his life was still the year spent in London.
He concentrates on his career in this book, with his wife and kids barely mentioned at all. Towards the end, he realizes that he didn't make his family his top priority and worries about his failures as a father, for which he seems to blame his mother, who always pushed him to do better. He claims that his mother's obsession with success pushed him to focus on it at the expense of his wife and children.

This was an OK read. The first part was better than the latter part. After the London episode, the book starts to get pretty boring unless you are interested in newspapers and reporters. I am not. The book just didn't measure up to the first one for me.

See also, the Los Angeles Times:

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