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3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  845 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
Douglas Brinkley presents the definitive, revealing biography of an American legend: renowned news anchor Walter Cronkite.

An acclaimed author and historian, Brinkley has drawn upon recently disclosed letters, diaries, and other artifacts at the recently opened Cronkite Archive to bring detail and depth to this deeply personal portrait.

He also interviewed nearly two hundred
Paperback, Large Print, 1456 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by HarperLuxe (first published May 29th 2012)
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Jay Connor
Jul 13, 2012 Jay Connor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“You don’t know what you’ve got, ‘til it’s gone.”

In reflecting on Walter Cronkite and his era, this 1970’s Joni Mitchell refrain from “Big Yellow Taxi” kept spinning through my mind. Not only is it a way of processing the diminution of the art of news and information for which Cronkite was the high water mark – “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” – but it is a way of doing so without sounding (or feeling) crotchety and out of touch with today’s wolf-pack incarnation.

“You don’t know
Brinkley is America's Historian and certainly has the resources to get us both the overall story and the inside scoop. The book is full of fascinating info on Walter Cronkite from archival sources and the subject's family, professional associates, and friends. It offers particularly juicy gossip about Cronkite's last years and his disdain for CBS and Dan Rather. It is worth reading for the information it provides about Uncle Walter's life and his opinions about newsmakers and the news.

But beware
Jul 16, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
To begin, I did not live through (most of) the Cronkite era on The CBS Evening News, so my recollection of many of these events is null and void, filled only by patchwork notes in history texts and clips of newscasts on YouTube and the like. The most trusted man in America comes to life in his biography by Douglas Brinkley. Brinkley weaves many wonderful tales, pulling on numerous books, interviews, and documented video/audio to complete this book and does so in an effortless manner. Weaving tog ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Molly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Walter Cronkite was 90 years old, he was dining out with friends Nick, Nina and son George Clooney (Nick was a newsman). Restaurant patrons recognized Cronkite, but didn’t bother him. But when he left, they rose. George said, "They didn't applaud, they just stood up, because that's what you do when a gentleman is leaving the room."

This biography tells how Walter Cronkite came to earn that silent standing ovation. It was difficult to finish because the final pages meant saying goodbye not o
Drew Zagorski
Jul 16, 2012 Drew Zagorski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I was initially attracted to this bio because I love reading history (thanks to my 8th grade teacher, one of the best ever Pat Cahill!). So I was fascinated by the thought of all the history Cronkite was witness to. As I read the reader reviews on various sites, there were many that were very critical with comment about all the typos in the book to the complaint that the author made Cronkite out to be an alcoholic, to only offering scant details on the historical events covered in the book.

May 08, 2013 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As described late in this book, in 2005, Ted Koppel gave an informal talk to young interns hoping to become news broadcasters. Koppel asked, did they knew anything about Eric Sevaried? Howard K. Smith? Frank Reynolds? Chet Huntley? John Chancellor? David Brinkley? Walter Cronkite? Of those seven names, Cronkite was the only one the interns recognized. Yet 40-50 years ago, all seven of these newsmen were household names to almost all Americans.

Why has Cronkite's legacy alone endured? Douglas Brin
Dan Oko
Once upon a time, author and historian Douglas Brinkley tells us, giants roamed the earth -- and the airwaves! Nowadays, of course, a figure such as Walter Cronkite is in danger of being forgotten. So let's visit a time when there was a TV anchorman of such stature he was consider 'America's favorite uncle.' This compelling life-and-time treatment reminds us of an era when television news was more than car crashes and following up Internet scoops. Brinkley knew Cronkite, interviewed his family a ...more
Jun 24, 2012 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Douglas Brinkley's comprehensive biography of Walter Cronkite - but it was SO LONG. Brinkley's research was extensive - but he suffered from a problem he claims Cronkite did not- the inability (or unwillingness)to distinguish the wheat from the chaff. There is so much detail. While it is true that Cronkite, who was a journalist before TV and was involved in that medium from its inception, was involved in almost every major journalistic issue from the beginning of WWII until his death i ...more
Jun 22, 2012 Steve rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To clarify my one-star rating:

Walter Cronkite was an amazing figure. One of the greatest newsmen of this and all generations. The most trusted man in America for a reason and one of the smartest, most well-read men ever.

This book is crap. The editing became shoddier the longer I read until I quit in disgust. Typos, stories that go nowhere, author's speculation instead of fact, more typos, and the author in love with his own writing to the tune of near 700 pages. Amateur hour stuff. I find it am
Adam Shields
Short review: an interesting subject, but the biography was mediocre. Lots of repetition of events, lots of focus on petty infighting. Very little focus on what Cronkite was really about. Reading other reviews there are lots of factual problems with the book and clearly some editing problems.

My full review is in my blog at
I'd like to have given this a third star, but with other reviews running in the four-star average, I can't.

While I learned a number of things about Cronkite from this book (see below), I learned even more about Douglas Brinkley as a history/biography writer, especially since this isn't the first book of his I've read.

Brinkley is the new Stephen Ambrose, I am thinking more and more, and that's not a compliment. Cronkite deserves a better biographer.

I think Brinkley, like his mentor Ambrose, uses
Andy Miller
Nov 19, 2013 Andy Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This comprehensive biography of Walter Cronkite details the life of Cronkite we television viewers knew; his steadying influence during American tragedies such as the JFK assassination, his famous Vietnam commentary,his infatuation with the NASA space program, his warm style during his interviews and broadcasts

But this book also details Cronkite's life that wasn't as well known, details that often belie his "Uncle Walter" persona. This includes his ambition and appetite for air time and control-
Don Wagner
I usually read the reviews of others before I write my own review -- I hesitate to cover ground others might have covered in a better manner.

I saw only one other reviewer mention something that jumped out to me. Mr. Cronkite spent his career fighting for what he considered impartial reporting of the news, and the journalism required to bring those news reports. Yet Cronkite was a liberal all of his adult life, and in his life after he left broadcasting, was very extreme, like one-world-governmen
I have just finished reading Cronkite, the new biography by Douglas Brinkley of "the most trusted man in America," and I have mainly good things to say about it--coupled with one big criticism. Walter Cronkite is just endlessly fascinating, and his life makes terrific grist for a lengthy biography. Anyone who remembers watching him report on President Kennedy's assassination, the civil rights marches, the Vietnam War, the Begin-Sadat summit, and especially the space launches will probably enjoy ...more
Mid 20th Century history masquerading or presented in the form of biography. While centered on the eponymous flag bearer and icon of American Electronic Journalism, this book delves into a variety of topics.

Walter Cronkite set a standard, and for some the standard for the anchor position of the at one time Big 3US television networks. His fall, jump, or being shoved from the pinnacle is a cautionary tale but not without some justification. Sadly there will never be another period like this one
Let me start out by saying this. I really wanted to like this book, really I did. For as historically accurate as it was with its telling of the rise of Broadcast Newscasting (told through the storied career or legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite) I found the writing style of the story to be dull and at times pedantic. The author brings the reader into the different channels of history he ascribes to but at the same time the story is at most times bland and blase. I found the back story of w ...more
Jaye Ramsey
Jun 09, 2012 Jaye Ramsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I did not want this book to end. Douglas Brinkley writes like a journalist/historian with detail, joy, and enthusiasm. It is an intimate book, an historical biography of one of the more important witnesses to the 20 Century.

Brinkley, a Rice University professor, has said that he writes about people of whom we will discuss in 100 years. This is another such work. He has a gift. His interviewees open up to him warmly and tell all with generosity and insight.

You will want the hardcover.

Douglas Brinkley
Justin Mitchell
I understand the complaints I've heard about this book--it does feel very slipshod a lot of the time, with facts being repeated, characters introduced over and over again as if each mention of them is the very first, and an elastic jumping back and forth in time. But it is a wealth of information--although I've read some credible critiques that say it is off-base. It's hard to know, I guess. Brinkley is far from a great writer, and maybe not a great historian, either, but I nevertheless enjoyed ...more
Sep 19, 2016 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found it fascinating to take this walk back in time my childhood. All the great names in the newsrooms that I grew up with. It was amazing to see the changes and challenges in the industry as it evolved (and not in a good way) to today's standards. The personalities and the conflicts among the newscaster greats were both sad, and reassuring in their humanity. And at the end of the day, there will NEVER be another Uncle Walter!
Jul 07, 2012 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Most correspondents supplied the puffery only as necessary, to remain on good terms with the PR officers. Cronkite eagerly wrote propaganda for the good of the Allied cause. He was a reporter for Democracy. 'We were all on the same side,' Cronkite later said, 'and most of us newsmen abandoned any thought of impartiality as we reported on the heroism of our boys and the bestiality of the hated Nazis.'"
Aug 24, 2012 Wanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend this well written and meticulously researched book about the life of an extremely laudable man. My only reservation is that those of you who remember what good journalism was, and who remember when the nightly news was actual news instead of pablum, happy stories of "heroes" and interviews with barely literate sports figures who emit the same words that were given to them by their teams to memorize -- you folks will go into mourning as I did!
Dec 18, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful biography. I listened to it and loved living again through all of the events that occurred during Cronkite's career. A living history lesson. It is very well written and the reader sounds like Cronkite himself.

America does not love its doddering geniuses. Even when the oldest and frailest commenters among us are the only ones willing to speak truth to power in public discourse, we tend to dismiss them, and everything they say, as foolish and, in the true sense of the word, demented. We neglect these voices, though, at our own peril.

Kurt Vonnegut, in the last years of his life, wrote columns for In These Times, the far-left magazine of commentary and investigativ
Mar 05, 2014 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy any or all of the following, this book is for you: news, journalism, media, history, politics, sociology. To make it even better, Cronkite was actually a pretty humorous guy, so there were some very entertaining parts of this that made me laugh out loud.

Walter Cronkite had already retired in 1981 by the time I was born in 1982, so I never got to witness the golden age of Cronkite. I recall seeing him on various television shows growing up and my dad saying, "That's Walter Cronkite,
Jan 15, 2017 Marty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm partial to biographies because of my love of history, however, I find most if not all biographies provide wisdom of time that should be passed on. Most of what is written in this novel is what many people believe they are encountering for the first time.

This novel provides an insight about the lifetime of wisdom of a distinguished American who ushered in the term "News Anchor."

Most current news is loudly spoken entertainment/reality television for ratings.
The life and times of Walter Cronk
Oct 07, 2016 Studvet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well -written and informative, easy to read. I am from the Kennedy and Cronkite era so it all radiated with me. The only reason it didn't get 5 stars was because Cronkite was as he appeared, and tho a wonderful, honorable man, these qualities essentially meant the book lacked any scandal or frailty of qualities and so lacked a gripping touch. No fault of the subject or writer. The Legend Was a Legend. He actually got better with age and to be dealing with such modern, complex topics in ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Media critics called him the “most trusted man in America,” perhaps even the “most powerful man in journalism.” His viewers across the nation referred to him as “Uncle Walter.” Harvard University presented him with an honorary doctorate of law, pronouncing him the “preeminent figure” in contemporary journalism. His colleagues nicknamed Walter Cronkite “Iron Pants” for his uncanny ability to sit in his anchor chair for hours on end, reporting on American and world history in the making.

Here in th
Can't wait to tell you. Long book included most radio personalities; the book mostly valuable for its inclusive report of radio from start to take over by tv.

My conclusion as to the 'uniqueness' of Mr Cronkite is that he was in the current educational parlance ADHD. In my age and his it was called being a 'late bloomer.'
I offer his difficulties in school, not being a good student in college. What happens today to ADHD kids that can't do the educational level? Be a cut-up.

In the book p 559 -A
Garry Wilmore
My own thoughts on this book are similar to those expressed in Stephanie's review. I give it three stars instead of her two, only because I found Cronkite's story to be so interesting and compelling, although it could and should have been told better, especially by someone with Douglas Brinkley's credentials. His acknowledgements include a long list of individuals who supposedly reviewed the manuscript before it was published, but if such was the case, I wonder how so many errors made it into th ...more
Dec 23, 2016 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this immensely. I particularly liked hearing about the pioneer days of broadcast television news and the different personalities at play throughout the years. Cronkite's evolution as a public figure was also interesting. I liked how his life story is told against the backdrop of the historical moments that he lived through, reported upon, and interacted with.
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Mr Cronkite was clearly a 'late bloomer' 1 7 Sep 11, 2012 07:01AM  
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Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him “America’s new past master.” His most recent books are The Quiet World, The Wilderness Warrior, and The Great Deluge. Six of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children.
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“Cronkite had mastered the intentional pause, the need for frozen seconds of long silence at certain historic moments. Nobody before or after Cronkite had mastered the art of communicating news on television nightly without ever becoming an irritant.” 2 likes
“He followed an ironclad rule. He NEVER WATCHED HIMSELF.” 1 likes
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