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A Good Life

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  698 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
This is the witty, candid story of a daring young man who made his own way to the heights of American journalism and public life, of the great adventure that took him at only twenty years old straight from Harvard to almost four years in the shooting war in the South Pacific, and back, from a maverick New Hampshire weekly to an apprenticeship for Newsweek in postwar Paris, ...more
ebook, 512 pages
Published May 31st 2011 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 12, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, memoir
The first 8 chapters of this, up to about p. 200, are super boring. This includes Bradlee's Waspy upbringing amongst the Boston (Brahmin) Crowninshields, his years at Harvard, the months in the Navy during World War II, the first marriage to Jean Saltonstall of the Boston Brahmin Saltonstalls, the years in Paris working for Newsweek. The boredom abates a little as Bradlee, married and with a young son, and resembling Jon Hamm, falls for the married mother of four Antoinette Pinchot Pittman, of t ...more
May 20, 2013 Vicki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I tried to read this one because I so loved Katherine Graham's Personal History and wanted to read about some of the events she went through from the perspective of another who was there. But whereas I came away from Graham's book wishing I could add her to my list of lunch buddies, I bailed out on this one because my palms just itched to slap Bradlee every four or five pages, I found him to be so insufferable. And life is too short to read a whole memoir of someone you want to drop-kick.
Nicholas Lefevre
I recently went to Ben Bradlee's funeral at the National Cathedral here in Washington. The stories told by his friends, family, and colleagues made this a must read for me. It was out of print and I wanted hard copy so I had to buy a used copy online. It is now in reprint so it should become more available soon.

I absolutely loved my week with Ben Bradlee! It's rare that I read an autobiography where I really like being with that person. So many are self-congratulatory or the author is just not a
Sep 19, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why the heck did I read this book anyway? It's loaded with roughandtumble masculine activities-- war, politics, infidelity-- that usually have scant interest for me. Nevertheless, I read it, liked it, and have read it in its entirety a second time. How come?

Now I recall that I picked it up because Katharine Graham mentioned it favorably in her own bio, and I really respect that woman. I've come to be quite intrigued with the Watergate story, so there was that...

And then, once I'd started reading
Jan 28, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
reminded me of Forrest Gump. Here's a guy who's led a fantastic and amazing life. Next door neighbors and good friends with JFK, editor in charge of breaking the Watergate scandal, trips to Vietnam, Isreal, and Libya at all the right (journalistic) times. Written like an editor from the Washington Post. Somewhat devoid of information, but well written.
Dec 11, 2007 Arnold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: communications
Ben Bradlee is considered one of the great American journalists. A Harvard graduate who rose to become Managing Editor of the Washington Post, one of the most influentual newspapers in the USA. He was in charge of the paper during its heyday of Watergate, Deep Throat, Pentagon Papers and the fall of Nixon. This is his very candid and wonderfully written biography
Grindy Stone
Worth reading only because Bradlee had a privileged vantage point for much of the latter half of the 20th century. That said, Bradlee comes off as insufferable and smug. There's also lots more crude, potty humor than one would expect from the elite.
Bradlee, unfortunately, comes across as a bit of an ass. It's interesting background for looking at the Pentagon Papers/Watergate era, but isn't as content-rich as one might want.
Nancy Kennedy
Feb 03, 2012 Nancy Kennedy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How did I miss this book? It's almost 15 years old, but my library was featuring it, so it must have just gotten some book donations.

I'm a news hound for whom Watergate was a defining moment, just as JFK's assassination and the 9/11 terrorist attacks similarly colored the way we view the world. I jumped right to the Watergate section of Ben Bradlee's book. It's fascinating to relive that time in our nation's history from the inside, from the smallest to the most momentous editorial decisions the
Holly Morrow
I knew I was going to like this book, and I did. I love memoirs, I love the Wash Post, I love WWII and I love gossipy accounts of world events. Its especially good in the first half, when its Bradlee's WASPy coming of age tale, his WWII jaunt in the Pacific, and the beginnings of his newspapering days and his incredible friendship with his neighbor JFK. After the Pentagon Papers it becomes less interesting, more engrossed with the office politics of the Wash Post and all the great reporters ther ...more
Tom Spann
Aug 19, 2013 Tom Spann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life at the top. A better title might have A Remarkable Life. Entering Bardlee's world is a heady experience. Bradlee paid his dues, for sure, on his rise to the top of the newspapering world. Once there, though, he never lost sight of his primary mission as a journalist....tell the truth. That was Woodward and Bernstien's mission with the Watergate story and Bardlee backed them all the way when other major papers would not touch the story. The breadth and depth of Bardlee's life is enough to ta ...more
False Millennium
I still think he's fudging on the truth about his sister-in-law's diary (who was having an affair with JFK while President,) and possible CIA involvement in her death. Why on earth would a family member turn over such a document TO the CIA? It's crazy. This was also written before the deaths of Katherine Graham and Art Buchwald, so that would change his later years story. He really whitewashes his wife (which you would expect,) but she is generally seen as a gold digging opportunist in the town ...more
Joanna Jacob
As a history buff, this is an interesting read, particularly the chapters dealing with Watergate, the Pentagon Papers and Gary Hart, and how decisions were made within the inner sanctums of a great newspaper. A lot of name dropping, but I guess that is to be expected in a memoir. A good life, for sue, and a privileged life.. Bradlee is quite candid in acknowledging the privilege, and the twists fo fate which led him to the Post (as in deciding not to get off the train to interview with the Balti ...more
A typical autobiography of an un-humble man who lived a privileged life. Highpoints are his personal relationship with JFK and Jackie, of which he probably made too much in his life as well as in his books, and his experiences editing the Watergate story during a time of incredible pushback from President Nixon and his cronies. Even though many of us have seen the movie, I can recommend the Watergate chapters because they describe what the role of journalism can be in a democracy when it's worki ...more
Feb 13, 2013 Adriandoran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite books. Read this and wonder what you've done with your life: Bradlee graduated from Harvard, got married and signed-up for the Navy on the same day. What lay ahead? Youngest watch commander of the US Navy in WW2, an American in Paris for Newsweek in the 50's, next door neighbour with new senator JFK - and that's just his 30's. Then a brilliant career in newspapers, covering the Kennedy assassination, and breaking Watergate. Told with wit and enough humility, it's one of my de ...more
Feb 11, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
Bradlee is an excellent writer. This is an outstanding autobiography, best read with the biography of his publisher, the late great Katherine Graham. The author spans his heady years at The Washington Post, with the Kennedys and Nixon and Watergate and the threat to our Constitutional right to a free press.
Alas, the standards in journalism seem to have fallen since his day...and the reduced interest in reading a newspaper has impacted newpaper publishing enormously. Will they become obsolete?
Aug 15, 2010 Rodney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I read this book quite some time ago, and it remains one of my favorite autobiographies. Bradlee has led a "good life," and he takes us through much of it in the only way a newspaper man can: with style and grace. Among the many things Bradlee discusses are his relationship with JFK, the Watergate Scandal, and his many years as editor-in-chief of The Washington Post. Sombre, light-hearted, to the point, A Good Life offers us a unique look at a remarkable life!
Jim Scheller
May 16, 2011 Jim Scheller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know whether I'd like this biography, or biography at all for that matter (other than bios of people I already know I like, like Lincoln, for example), but I was working at Barnes & Noble 2502 when this came out and when I saw in in a thrift store I couldn't resist. (I'm a sucker for cheap books, I have to say...)

I liked it very much, and enjoyed the inside story of the Washington Post's role in Nixon's downfall.
Cathy Allen
Mar 03, 2012 Cathy Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-leaders
This is my second time through this book. I've read quite a few autobiographies and I honestly think this is one of the best ever. It's good old-fashioned storytelling. Bradlee puts the events of his life in context and elaborates on what his readers would want to know. (I care more about how he decided certain questions having to do with The Pentagon Papers or Watergate, for instance, than about why his marriage broke up.) Truly entertaining.
Oct 30, 2014 Leigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mentor insisted I read this book early in my career and I am grateful I did. I am reading it again because it is a good account on investigative journalism, management, politics, values...often pretty salty and also very humorous. Everyone who works to uphold the First Amendment/cares about it should read this book.
Washington Post
The Post’s former executive editor looks back at Watergate and other events that shaped modern Washington.

“But for politicians who rode the wave into Washington after Watergate, the lessons they seem to have learned have boiled down to this: Don’t get caught. And they haven’t learned that lesson all that well.”
Jan 17, 2011 Jude rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-hardcover
A book with a strong middle, saddled with a far less interesting beginning and end. Bradlee's life was most interesting when he was at The Washington Post, overseeing reporting on The Pentagon Papers, Watergate and "Jimmy's World." Unfortunately for us, there's a lot written about his Navy career, his stint in Paris and his tenure at Newsweek before we get to the good stuff.
Jul 29, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining read!  I really like his writing style.  Long before WikiLeaks and Troopergate there were the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.  I was a little girl when many of the events mentioned in the book occurred so it was nice to re-visit them as an adult.  I would think this is a must read for a journalism major or a political junkie.  
David Ward
Dec 12, 2014 David Ward rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures by Ben Bradlee (Simon & Shuster 1995)(Biography). Ben Bradlee was the editor of the Washington Post when Woodward and Bernstein broke the Watergate story. The silver spoon that he was born sucking on dictated no less an exalted position. This is his autobiography. My rating: 7/10, finished 12/11/14.
Feb 25, 2010 Kspeare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty good read for anyone who remembers Watergate, or wants to know what the heck they were thinking then, or who grew up in or around Washington. It also covers Bradlee's life leading up to Watergate, including his WWII service and courtside seat in JFK's Camelot, as well as what came after. Funny in spots and sobering in others.
Stephen Costello
Sep 30, 2013 Stephen Costello rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book.
As a twelve year old fascinated with Watergate, these events
led to me to aspire to want a career in journalism.
I could not put the book down as it was chapter and verse recap
of what really happened.
Great job.
Steve Borek
May 11, 2012 Steve Borek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tom Brokaw was asked when he'd write his memoir. He said after reading Bradlee's Good Life, what would be the point. Mr. Brokaw was basically saying his life paled in comparison to Bradlee's.

One of the better memoirs.
Dec 04, 2007 S. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-diary-memoir
This was interesting from a journalistic point of view. I loved "All the President's Men," so it was an enriching addition. Still, Bradlee manages to make his own life none-too-engaging, maybe because he writes so distantly of it. A man's man, for sure.
Andy Perdue
Mar 24, 2011 Andy Perdue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the great journalists of the modern era, Ben Bradlee offers the inside scoop of what it was like to run The Washington Post. I've always admired the newspaper and the people who ran it, so this was thoroughly enjoyable.
Brian Watson
Aug 29, 2007 Brian Watson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can only hope I'm half as cool as this guy when I'm his age. Unquestionably a must-read for any reporter or editor.
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Father of Ben Bradlee Jr.
Benjamin Crowninshield "Ben" Bradlee is vice-president at large of the Washington Post. Born in Boston, Bradlee attended Harvard College. In 1942, he became a communications officer for the Office of Naval Intelligence and fought in thirteen battles during World War II. Bradlee became executive editor of the Washington Post in 1968, a position he held until 1991. During th
More about Ben Bradlee...

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“But journalists thrive on not knowing exactly what the future holds. That's part of the excitement. Something interesting, something important, will happen somewhere, as sure as God made sour apples, and a good aggressive newspaper will become part of that something.” 0 likes
“I think the conscientious pursuit of happiness by itself can validate decisions to change, to try again, especially when failure to change will lead to lives of duplicity, dishonesty, and deceit.” 0 likes
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