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A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,040 ratings  ·  71 reviews
In this witty, candid memoir, Ben Bradlee, the most important, glamorous, and famous newspaperman of modern times, traces his path from Harvard to the battles of the Pacific war to the pinnacle of success as the editor of The Washington Post--during the Watergate scandal and every other important event of the last three decades. of photos.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 11th 1996 by Simon Schuster (first published 1995)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  1,040 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Oct 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, own
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 ...more
May 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Printable Tire
Listened to the abridged audiobook version, which was long enough, and probably is the best medium for any memoir, for who doesn't like having some crusty old man yak about his sex life in your ear?

I'm a bit ashamed I never heard of Ben Bradlee before picking this up at the discard pile of the Redwood Library, but not too ashamed, for there are a lot of people to know and I can't know all of them.

Bradlee speaks with mostly candor about his personal problems and the triumphs and tribulations of
Nicholas Lefevre
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Patricia McLaughlin
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Nothing can compare with the thrill of a good story, yours alone, slowly developing, slowly leaving its mark on history. Nothing.” —Ben Bradlee (p. 198)

Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finishing this book was like saying goodbye to an old friend... a must-read for anyone interested in Watergate, JFK (a close friend of Bradlee’s), or the excitement of journalism.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A couple of weeks ago I watched “The Post,” Stephen Spielberg’s new movie about the publishing of the Pentagon Papers. I thought it was very good, and I remembered I had Bradlee’s memoirs sitting unread on some shelf. Sitting there unread for almost twenty years. I’m not sure why I didn’t read it soon after I bought it in 1999, the same year it was published. (The sales slip was still in the book.) It’s rather lengthy, 499 pages, but Katherine Graham’s memoirs, published two years earlier, is ...more
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Washington Post
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.”
Dec 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whew, I have just completed (after many days spilling over to a few weeks) this fascinating recounting of Bradlee's amazing life. I thoroughly enjoy reading books about both the media and the decades that preceded my life and then became a part of my young and early adult life. These type of books interest me for two reasons. When I was in high school and college I worked on school publications, not as a writer but as a copy editor. The whole world of journalism interested me. The second reason ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book many, many years ago and it just sat on my shelf, collecting dust. With the recent release of "The Post", I was finally motivated to tackle this 500-page memoir.

As a young person with aspirations toward journalism, Ben Bradlee was always a personal hero of mine. While the first half of the book is a little slow, the second half kicks it up about three notches. And while Bradlee was one of the focal points in both "All The President's Men" and "The Post", this memoir is filled
Brian Page
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ben Bradlee (1921 – 2014) achieved fame as Editor in Chief of WaPo under Katharine Graham during the Pentagon Papers and Watergate era. In A Good Life, Bradlee is largely self-depreciating, not so much about his abilities, but about the incredible opportunities that just happened to fall into his lap due to his back bay blue blood Boston family connections, everything from foreign service work to sleeping with another man’s wife while on a family ski holiday. To me the modesty runs a bit thin ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was great to read on the heels of "Personal History" by Kathrine Graham. His voice is so vivid and I felt like I got to know the complexity of Bradlee. He didn't shy away from admitting his mistakes and seemed rather self-deprecating and at times almost in awe of the fact that he was in the position he was in. But while in awe of the position, he owned it, it didn't own him. I'm sure I could put more thought into a more coherent review, but I'm hungry and ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not too bad. I found his thoughts on Kennedy, Watergate, and the different aspects of running the Post very interesting. At times the consistent (but expected name dropping) led to a bit of disinterest. However, these instances were quickly forgotten when Bradlee would start afresh with a different topic or the crux the name dropping would be revealed.

I felt that there was great honesty in this book but it did leave me to question whether in memoirs if the reader is truly learning about the
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us-history
This writer exemplifies the word “urbane”. While working as a reporter in Paris he fell in love with his second wife. Bradlee created an independent paper in New Hampshire in the 1950’s. Later he was a war correspondent for a major magazine and finally he jet-setted with the Kennedys. He was also instrumental in redefining how Americans understand their government as the managing editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate break-in and the Pentagon Papers publication.
Bradlee mentions
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I picked up this book at the library because we had seen The Post recently so I was curious about Ben Bradlee and his perspective on the Pentagon Papers--and other events in the life of the Washington Post. This is a pretty forthright and honest book. His childhood was abruptly changed from very privileged to just getting by during the Depression. He tells of his adventures during WWII after leaving Harvard early. Bradlee was married three times and he is not shy about mentioning ...more
Steve Bera
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a best seller 25 years ago. I thought with the release of 'The Post" movie now it might seem more relevant, but it didn't seem that way. The book devoted only a few pages to that subject. It was interesting to learn about Ben Bradlee, his three wives, and children from each marriage. He sounds like a smart and likeable person. The news business sounds brutal. I thought the news business would be fun in my next life, but I have changed my mind after reading this book and a couple of ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
A very compelling read if you work in the media (like I do), or if you care about good journalism. The Washington Post was my hometown newspaper growing up, so this book has special meaning to me.

Bradley was certainly one of the best at his craft, not much of a husband or father to his kids though.

If the politics of the 60s-80s interests you, this is a good read.
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating account of Bradlee’s life including Watergate and the Pengagon Papers revelations. Read this alongside All The President’s Men and Katherine Graham’s excellent autobiography. What an incredible time in history.
Molly McMahon
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was interested to read Bradlee's story after reading Katherine Graham's. Different perspective. He lived an interesting life. He didn't go as deep into details as Graham did. I would have liked more of his perspective on the strike in the 70's.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A marvelous read! As fast paced as Bradley's life was. From WWII in the Pacific, to moving to Georgetown at the same time as Senator Kennedy and striking up an intimate couples friendship, to the Pentagon Papers and later Watergate... the book is a ring side seat to major 20th centure occurences.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
#53 of 120 books pledged to read during 2018
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A memoir with character, flaws and all. History from an eyewitness, warts and all.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
The Watergate chapter is good in an otherwise forgettable book.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this other story of Watergate and the rest of his life. What an original wonderful man.
Michelle Coon
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this as it almost unfolds like a novel. The story behind it and many others are very relevant to today's events.
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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
“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.” 2 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.” 1 likes
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