In journalism there is little redemption. Reporters write their stories or their books and send them out into the winds, hoping for flight. Negative blowback, when it happens, is dispiriting; people find fault, take sides, deny they ever gave that provocative quote in the first place. Jeff Himmelman knows this well. He wrote a book, Yours in Truth, about Washington Post legend Ben Bradlee that caused all kinds of ill will among the people closest to Bradlee. We wrote about it when the book came out.
This Sunday, Himmelman gets his redemption—and not from the Washington Post, but the New York Times. Phil Bronstein, former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, gives the book a boffo review. “This is instead a work about seduction and mythology, how powerful and romantic they can be, and how neither makes for a fulfilling relationship or a full portrait of a three-dimensional human being,” writes Bronstein, noting that the book is neither about heroes nor about journalism. Well, it is, but he makes a good point. The book transcends being just another love letter to Ben Bradlee.
How does Himmelman feel about his good review? You guessed it. “Not sure it is redemption, but it sure feels like it,” he wrote to us in an e-mail.