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Publisher's Summary

"Reporter is just wonderful. Truly a great life, and what shines out of the book, amid the low cunning and tireless legwork, is Hersh's warmth and humanity. This book is essential reading for every journalist and aspiring journalist the world over." (John le Carre)

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author and preeminent investigative journalist of our time - a heartfelt, hugely revealing memoir of a decades-long career breaking some of the most impactful stories of the last half century, from Washington to Vietnam to the Middle East. 

Seymour Hersh's fearless reporting has earned him fame, front-page bylines in virtually every major newspaper in the free world, honors galore, and no small amount of controversy. Now in this memoir he describes what drove him and how he worked as an independent outsider, even at the nation's most prestigious publications. He tells the stories behind the stories - riveting in their own right - as he chases leads, cultivates sources, and grapples with the weight of what he uncovers, daring to challenge official narratives handed down from the powers that be. 

In telling these stories, Hersh divulges previously unreported information about some of his biggest scoops, including the My Lai massacre and the horrors at Abu Ghraib. There are also illuminating recollections of some of the giants of American politics and journalism: Ben Bradlee, A. M. Rosenthal, David Remnick, and Henry Kissinger among them. This is essential listening on the power of the printed word at a time when good journalism is under fire as never before.

©2018 Seymour M. Hersh (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“There’s gripping journalistic intrigue aplenty as [Hersh] susses out sources and documents, fences with officials, and fields death threats... Hersh himself is brash and direct, but never cynical, and his memoir is as riveting as the great journalistic exposés he produced.” (Publishers Weekly)  

“Candid and revelatory... Compared to the contemporary field of blogs, bots, and opinion-driven reportage, the last half of the twentieth-century can look like the heyday of honest and critical journalism. But even now, Hersh remains at the vanguard of tenacious and purposeful writers who speak truth to power, and surely he’s inspiring the best at work now. Journalism junkies will devour this insider’s account of a distinguished career.” (Booklist)   

“Outstanding... Rarely has a journalist's memoir come together so well, with admirable measures of self-deprecation, transparent pride, readable prose style, and honesty.” (Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Gripping and Important

People interested in recent U.S. history or in journalism will probably want to read this book. It is full of insights into the worlds of journalism, politics, the military, intelligence, etc., from the 1960s through today. Some parts, such as the My Lai chapters, are as gripping as the best spy stories, with the rewarding bonus that truth appears to be something that can actually be attained, at least sometimes, when the many barriers to uncovering and publishing it are overcome. The memoir focuses on these processes, and it is fascinating.

The tone is occasionally self-laudatory, but it feels deserved: Hersh's avowed ambition drove him to excel in his job and to serve the general public immensely.

At the outset you might feel quite pessimistic regarding systems—governmental, military and others—and there is a depressing feeling that investigative journalism is no less needed when a Kennedy runs the country than, say, a Nixon. But you also get a sense that individuals can, and will, make a difference. For that reason, the book left me cautiously optimistic.

The audio version is very well narrated by Arthur Morey, though I wished we could have had it in Hersh's wonderful, less polished, more urgent voice. It comes out as a bit ironic that a figure of the ultimate outsider—such an outsider that Hersh had no problem (and got much flak) revealing the cover-ups of Democratic as well as Republican establishments—should have his story told by a booming, all-American, seven-habits-of-highly-effective-people (to my ears at least, but otherwise excellent) voice. Hersh's tale and Morey's persona are both great enough that you only occasionally reflect about the discrepancy. (I kept a 5-star rating for performance as I believe the casting, not the performance, to leave room for improvement.)

One note of caution, in case you intend to listen to the book with your family or in class: some of the descriptions in the My Lai chapters are particularly gruesome. I believe the descriptions to be warranted (they say much about how war can turn men into barbaric creatures), but you might want to listen ahead before deciding whether your children or pupils can handle them.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Lost in the Weeds

I am interested in recent history, politics, journalism and investigations. I thought this book would be right up my alley. I had a very difficult time sticking with it and not daydreaming. Hersh's attention to detail was too much in this format. Too many names, dates, details to the point that I could not follow the big picture, even though I was interested in all of the topics. I've seen and heard Hersh interviewed, and see that this is his style; but without his inflections and enthusiasm, I kept checking out. The narration was pretty monotone. Maybe this was one which should have been read, rather than listened to, to facilitate going back repeatedly

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tom
  • Warm Springs, Georgia
  • 06-28-18

Pretty much what I expected

What I should have expected from a brash old school Chicago reporter who recounts his career from early days as city reporter to his rise as a world renowned investigative journalist who has been involved in exposing many of the most important stories of the last fifty years.

Hersh is very aware of his talents and flaws as well as the way he comes across to people, whether they be bosses, colleagues or targets. He’s pretty full of himself as you would expect but his memoir is driven by the intense love he has for the work he’s done so well. It has to be very frightening to be pursued by this guy once you realize he knows your hiding something.

All in all this comes across as an honest book. He brags but also admits his mistakes and regrets. I’ve followed him since the Sixties and I feel that Reporter serves as a fitting review of a career well reported.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Seymour Hersh is an American Treasure

This astounding autobiography chronicles the reporting of one of America’s greatest journalists who discovered and brought to light many of the worst aspects of the United States duplicity and misfeasance in the second half of the Twentieth Century and the start of the 21st. In that time he exposed the lies of our government during the Vietnam War, My Lai, Watergate, the CIA’s spying on Americans, the murder and attempted murder of South Americans and Fidel Castro, the duplicity of the neo-Cons in Iraq and Afghanistan, the failure to utilize Bashar al-Ashad and the Syrian Government in the Middle East and many other issues. He meticulously exposes the anti-American attitudes of the Pentagon and McNamara during Viet Nam, Henry Kissinger during a host of wars and crises, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Helms among others. Hersh achieves his success through hard work, dogged research, cultivation of sources and interviews. He is one of a kind and, in my opinion, deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work. Of course, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
A note on the NY Times review of Dwight Garner whom I admire. Mr. Garner misses the point and it’s a shame. He criticizes Mr. Hersh for not writing a fine memoir as he leaves out his family, his relationship with friends such as Bill Bradlee, Daniel Ellsberg, Bob Woodward and I.F. Stone. That’s not the point of the book. This is about reporting and no one really cares how well Bill Bradlee plays tennis or what Daniel Ellsberg likes to drink. Hersh’s interviews with Assad, William Calley and others, Kissinger’s lying and Dick Cheney’s failure to shake his hand speak volumes about Hersh’s conclusions. It is a remarkable story of how many times Hersh has been called a liar by politicians and others only to be vindicated many years later by declassified materials or admissions of witnesses. Richard Nixon’s fairly recently declassified tapes are a perfect example, but only one of many. Hersh’s discussion of his methods and work is fascinating and this book is a historical wonder.

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    5 out of 5 stars

open your eyes and mind. only truth will set us...

I've always been a bit radical in my belief or disbelief of the honesty and integrity of our elected officials. I had good teachers. My brillant older sister Kathy who was a hippy living in the Heate district of SF, with Janis Joplin down the street, always said to me that the American people have no clue what their government is doing. My father, a decorated Marine who served in World War II, forbade me to volunteer at 18 for the Vietnam war. He said "I will personally move you to Canada rather than waste your life in this unjust war."
Thank you Mr. Hirsch for confirming My family's heartfelt insights and beliefs . Share this book with all thinking and even non thinking people that you know. America needs to know!

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Fascinating ride from sixties to the present

Very interesting account of some of the most important investigative journalism from Vietnam to present. Well narrated. Only mystery is why Audible recorded in tiny segments and not chapters. Clearly the audible strategy is part of any publication plan so the audible chapters should correspond to the actual book chapters. A small technical mar to an overall informative and entertaining book.

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  • MikeH
  • Illinois
  • 08-18-18

Great read--great narration, too

True journalists like Hersh make reporting relatively simple: Ask the right questions of the right people, verify their answers, piece together the story and write it. Simple, yes, but not at all easy. He's one of the best at it and explains the process beautifully while describing some of the biggest stories of the century. I really enjoyed this memoir of a reporter who follows the truth where it leads him and doesn't start out with a set of "facts" he's trying to prove. I was a journalist during the much of the time Hersh covers and his stories reminded me of the joy of uncovering something others were trying to hide. It also reminded me that there are good, honorable people throughout the government, intelligence services and military who will risk their careers, and sometimes their lives, to expose their organizations' deceits. Hersh gives them ample credit in this book. A word about the narration: Arthur Morey was the perfect choice. There wasn't a false note in the entire 13 hours and 52 minutes. He makes you think Hersh is sitting there next to you telling you his story.

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A good book... not quite excellent

I wrote a long review that apparently got lost in the mail.

I'll rewrite it later, maybe, in short I was looking forward to the book based upon many radio interviews I heard Hersh in.

IMO the book did not live up to the quality and interest of the interviews...but is a solid and necessary book for all that.

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  • Thone
  • Glendale, CA, USA
  • 08-06-18

A Great Memoir

Since I am a near contemporary of Hersh, I loved this view of our history.

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Perfect timing

In these times we need more books like this incredible memoir. Thank you Mr Hersh!