Originally published 05/10/2013
Douglas Brinkley, the prolific Rice University historian who has already twice graced the cover of Rolling Stone (first for his interview of Bob Dylan in 2009, then for his interview of Barack Obama in 2012) has done it again.Brinkley's interview with Vice President Joe Biden made the cover of the most recent issue of Rolling Stone.A taste:There is a keen Kennedy-like vigor to Joe Biden that overwhelms any room. As was once said of Theodore Roosevelt, he, too, wants to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. Unlike President Obama, who speaks in interviews with Hemingway-esque sparseness, Biden rambles like Thomas Wolfe, painting a robust picture of an ever-changing America where coal miners will soon be working in clean-tech jobs, gun-safety laws will be tougher and China will be reined in by the White House from poisoning the planet with megatons of choking pollutants....
Originally published 03/24/2013
Ron Briley reviews books for the History News Network and is a history teacher and an assistant headmaster at Sandia Preparatory School, Albuquerque, New Mexico.House of Earth is a novel written in 1947 by folksinger and political activist Woody Guthrie. Although Guthrie wrote what many scholars describe as two autobiographical novels, Bound for Glory (1943) and Seeds of Man (published in 1972 five years after Guthrie’s death), House of Earth remained unpublished until the seemingly ubiquitous Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley discovered the manuscript and arranged for its publication under actor Johnny Depp's new Infinitum label with HarperCollins.
Originally published 02/22/2013
Charles L. Ponce de Leon, an associate professor of History and American Studies at California State University, Long Beach, is completing a book on the history of television news.More than thirty years after his retirement as anchor of the CBS Evening News—and over three years after his death in 2009—Walter Cronkite remains an iconic figure. He appears in the opening montage of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama The Newsroom, and his name is routinely evoked in laments about the “decline” of broadcast journalism, which invariably remind us that he was the “most trusted man in America,” a courageous truth-teller committed to objectivity and “hard news.”Douglas Brinkley’s long, absorbing biography of Cronkite does little to alter this impression. He tells us lots of interesting things about the man, but relatively little about how he became a mythic figure. Nor does he say very much about the particular kind of journalism that Cronkite and his colleagues produced. This is too bad, since Cronkite was at the center of a fascinating moment in the history of American mass media, and the television news that he came to embody was fleeting and highly unusual—an attempt to produce serious journalism in a medium associated with escapism.
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