Media Biographies
The Accidental Life: An Editor's Notes on Writing and Writers
The Accidental Life
An Editor's Notes on Writing and Writers
Paperback      ISBN: 1101970510
An Amazon Best Book of 2016

A celebration of the writing and editing life, as well as a look behind the scenes at some of the most influential magazines in America (and the writers who made them what they are).

You might not know Terry McDonell, but you certainly know his work. Among the magazines he has top-edited: Outside, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated. In this revealing memoir, McDonell talks about what really happens when editors and writers work with deadlines ticking (or drinks on the bar). His stories about the people and personalities he's known are both heartbreaking and bitingly funny--playing "acid golf" with Hunter S. Thompson, practicing brinksmanship with David Carr and Steve Jobs, working the European fashion scene with Liz Tilberis, pitching TV pilots with Richard Price.

Here, too, is an expert's practical advice on how to recruit--and keep--high-profile talent; what makes a compelling lede; how to grow online traffic that translates into dollars; and how, in whatever format, on whatever platform, a good editor really works, and what it takes to write well.

Taking us from the raucous days of New Journalism to today's digital landscape, McDonell argues that the need for clear storytelling from trustworthy news sources has never been stronger. Says Jeffrey Eugenides: "Every time I run into Terry, I think how great it would be to have dinner with him. Hear about the writers he's known and edited over the years, what the magazine business was like back then, how it's changed and where it's going, inside info about Edward Abbey, Jim Harrison, Annie Proulx, old New York, and the Swimsuit issue. That dinner is this book."
An Accidental Sportswriter: A Memoir
An Accidental Sportswriter
A Memoir
Paperback      ISBN: 0061769142

Celebrated sports journalist Robert Lipsyte--the New York Times' longtime lead sports columnist--mines pure gold from his long and very eventful career to bring readers a memoir like no other. An enthralling book, as much about personal relationships and the culture of sports as the athletes and teams themselves, An Accidental Sportswriter interweaves stories from Lipsyte's life and the events he covered to explore the connections between the games we play and the lives we lead. Robert Lipsyte has been there--from the Mets' first Spring Training to the fight that made Muhammad Ali an international icon to the current steroids scandals that rewired our view of sports--and in An Accidental Sportswriter he offers a fresh and refreshing view of the world of professional athletes as seen through the eyes of a journalist who always managed to remain independent of our jock-obsessed culture.

After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story
After Visiting Friends
A Son's Story
Paperback      ISBN: 1451676611

This haunting story of a son's quest to understand the mystery of his father's death is "searing and unforgettable...memoir writing at its best" (San Francisco Chronicle)--a "powerfully affecting" (O, The Oprah Magazine) portrait of a family and its legacy of secrets.

"Family? Secrets? Sometimes I think they are the same thing." So writes Michael Hainey in this unforgettable story of a son's search to discover the decades-old truth about his father's mysterious death. Hainey was a boy of six when his father, a bright and shining star in the glamorous, hard-living world of 1960s Chicago newspapers, died under mysterious circumstances. His tragic absence left behind not only a young widow and two small sons but questions about family and truth that would obsess Michael for decades.

Years later, Michael undertakes a risky journey to uncover the true story about what happened to his father. Prodding reluctant relatives and working through a network of his father's old colleagues, Michael begins to reconcile the father he lost with the one he comes to know. At the heart of his quest is his mother, a woman of courage and tenacity--and a steely determination to press on with her life. A universal story of love and loss and the resilience of family in the face of hardship, After Visiting Friends is the account of a son who goes searching for his father, and in the journey discovers new love and admiration for his mother.
Algerian Diary: Frank Kearns and the
Algerian Diary
Frank Kearns and the "impossible Assignment" for CBS News
Paperback      ISBN: 1933202629

Frank Kearns was the go-to guy at CBS News for danger- ous stories in Africa and the Middle East in the 1950s, '60s, and early '70s. By his own account, he was nearly killed 114 times. He took stories that nobody else wanted to cover and was challenged to get them on the air when nobody cared about this part of the world. But his stories were warning shots for conflicts that play out in the headlines today.

In 1957, Senator John Kennedy described America's view of the Algerian war for independence as the Eisenhower Administration's "head in the sand policy." So CBS News decided to find out what was really happening there and to determine where Algeria's war for independence fit into the game plan for the Cold War. They sent Frank Kearns to find out.

Kearns took with him cameraman Yousef ("Joe") Masraff and 400 pounds of gear, some of which they shed, and they hiked with FLN escorts from Tunisia, across a wide "no-man's land," and into the Aures Mountains of eastern Algeria, where the war was bloodiest. They carried no passports or visas. They dressed as Algerians. They refused to bear weapons. And they knew that if captured, they would be executed and left in unmarked graves. But their job as journalists was to seek the truth whatever it might turn out to be.

This is Frank Kearns's diary.

All at Sea: A Memoir
All at Sea
A Memoir
Hardcover      ISBN: 0385540655
All at Sea is a remarkable story of love and loss, of how one couple changed each other's life, and of what a sudden death can do to the people who survive.

On a hot, still morning on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, Decca Aitkenhead's life changed forever. Her four-year-old son was paddling peacefully at the water's edge when a wave pulled him out to sea. Her partner, Tony, swam out and saved their son's life--then drowned before her eyes.
When Decca and Tony first met, a decade earlier, she was a renowned Guardian journalist profiling leading politicians of the day; he was a dreadlocked criminal with a history of drug dealing and violence. No one thought the romance would last, but it did--until the tide swept Tony away, plunging Decca into the dark chasm of random tragedy.
Exploring race and redemption, privilege and prejudice, All at Sea is a breathtakingly honest, profound, and utterly unforgettable memoir.
all Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone
all Governments Lie
The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone
Paperback      ISBN: 1416556796

Boasting equal parts scholarship and style, All Governments Lie is a highly readable, groundbreaking, and timely look at I. F. Stone -- one of America's most independent and revered journalists, whose work carries the same immediacy it did almost a half century ago, highlighting the ever-present need for dissenting voices.

In the world of Washington political journalism, notorious for trading independence for access, I. F. Izzy Stone was so unique as to be a genuine wonder. Always skeptical -- All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out, he memorably quipped -- Stone was ahead of the pack on the most pivotal twentieth-century trends: the rise of Hitler and Fascism, disastrous Cold War foreign policies, covert actions of the FBI and CIA, the greatness of the Civil Rights movement, the horror of Vietnam, the strengths and weaknesses of the antiwar movement, the disgrace of Iran-contra, and the class greed of Reaganomics. His constant barrage against J. Edgar Hoover earned him close monitoring by the FBI from the Great Depression through the Vietnam War, and even an investigation for espionage during the fifties.

After making his mark on feisty New York dailies and in The Nation -- scoring such scoops as the discovery of American cartels doing business with Nazi Germany -- Stone became unemployable during the dark days of McCarthyism. Out of desperation he started his four-page I. F. Stone's Weekly, which ran from 1953 to 1971. The first journalist to label the Gulf of Tonkin affair a sham excuse to escalate the Vietnam War, Stone garnered worldwide fans, was read in the corridors of power, and became wealthy. Later, the world's oldest living freshman learned Greek to write his bestseller The Trial of Socrates.

Here, for the first time, acclaimed journalist and author Myra MacPherson brings the legendary Stone into sharp focus. Rooted in fifteen years of research, this monumental biography includes information from newly declassified international documents and Stone's unpublished five-thousand-page FBI file, as well as personal interviews with Stone and his wife, Esther; with famed modern thinkers; and with the best of today's journalists. It illuminates the vast sweep of turbulent twentieth-century history as well as Stone's complex and colorful life. The result is more than a masterful portrait of a remarkable character; it's a far-reaching assessment of journalism and its role in our culture.
All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists
All I Did Was Ask
Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists
Hardcover      ISBN: 1401300103
A fascinating collection of revealing and entertaining interviews by the award-winning host of National Public Radio's premier interview program Fresh Air.

Over the last twenty years, Terry Gross has interviewed many of our most celebrated writers, actors, musicians, comics, and visual artists. Her show, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, a weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues produced by WHYY in Philadelphia, is one of National Public Radio's most popular programs. More than four million people tune in to the show, which is broadcast on over 400 NPR stations across the country.

Gross is known for her thoughtful, probing interviewing style. In her trusted company, even the most reticent guest relaxes and opens up. But Gross doesn't shy away from controversy, and her questions can be tough--too tough, apparently, for Bill O'Reilly, who abruptly terminated his conversation with her. Her interview with Gene Simmons of Kiss, which is included in the book, prompted Entertainment Weekly to name Simmons its male "Crackpot of the Year."

For All I Did Was Ask, Gross has selected more than three dozen of her best interviews--ones of lasting relevance that are as lively on the page as they were on the air. Each is preceded by a personal introduction in which she reveals why a particular guest was on the show and the thinking behind some of her questions. And in an introductory chapter, the normally self-effacing Gross does something you're unlikely ever to hear her do on Fresh Air--she discusses her approach to interviewing, revealing a thing or two about herself in the bargain.

The collection focuses on luminaries from the art and entertainment world, including actors, comedians, writers, visual artists, and musicians, such as:

  • Conan O'Brien
  • Chris Rock
  • Michael Caine
  • Dennis Hopper
  • Dustin Hoffman
  • Jodie Foster
  • John Updike
  • Mary Karr
  • Mario Puzo
  • Nick Hornby
  • Chuck Close
  • Eric Clapton
  • George Clinton
  • Sonny Rollins
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Johnny Cash
  • Isabella Rossellini
  • Divine
  • Uta Hagen
  • Carol Shields
All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists
All I Did Was Ask
Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists
Paperback      ISBN: 0786888202
A fascinating collection of revealing and entertaining interviews by the award-winning host of National Public Radio's premier interview program Fresh Air.

Over the last twenty years, Terry Gross has interviewed many of our most celebrated writers, actors, musicians, comics, and visual artists. Her show, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, a weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues produced by WHYY in Philadelphia, is one of National Public Radio's most popular programs. More than four million people tune in to the show, which is broadcast on over 400 NPR stations across the country.

Gross is known for her thoughtful, probing interviewing style. In her trusted company, even the most reticent guest relaxes and opens up. But Gross doesn't shy away from controversy, and her questions can be tough--too tough, apparently, for Bill O'Reilly, who abruptly terminated his conversation with her. Her interview with Gene Simmons of Kiss, which is included in the book, prompted Entertainment Weekly to name Simmons its male "Crackpot of the Year."

For All I Did Was Ask, Gross has selected more than three dozen of her best interviews--ones of lasting relevance that are as lively on the page as they were on the air. Each is preceded by a personal introduction in which she reveals why a particular guest was on the show and the thinking behind some of her questions. And in an introductory chapter, the normally self-effacing Gross does something you're unlikely ever to hear her do on Fresh Air--she discusses her approach to interviewing, revealing a thing or two about herself in the bargain.

The collection focuses on luminaries from the art and entertainment world, including actors, comedians, writers, visual artists, and musicians, such as:

  • Conan O'Brien
  • Chris Rock
  • Michael Caine
  • Dennis Hopper
  • Dustin Hoffman
  • Jodie Foster
  • John Updike
  • Mary Karr
  • Mario Puzo
  • Nick Hornby
  • Chuck Close
  • Eric Clapton
  • George Clinton
  • Sonny Rollins
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Johnny Cash
  • Isabella Rossellini
  • Divine
  • Uta Hagen
  • Carol Shields
All Over But the Shoutin'
All Over But the Shoutin'
Paperback      ISBN: 0679774025
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg's father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most.

But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg's mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people's cotton so that her children wouldn't have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives--and the country that shaped and nourished them--with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable.
All Tomorrow's Parties: A Memoir
All Tomorrow's Parties
A Memoir
Hardcover      ISBN: 0802124836

Rob Spillman--the award-winning, charismatic cofounding editor of the legendary Tin House magazine--has devoted his life to the rebellious pursuit of artistic authenticity. Born in Germany to two driven musicians, his childhood was spent among the West Berlin cognoscenti, in a city two hundred miles behind the Iron Curtain. There, the Berlin Wall stood as a stark reminder of the split between East and West, between suppressed dreams and freedom of expression.

After an unsettled youth moving between divorced parents in disparate cities, Spillman would eventually find his way into the literary world of New York City, only to abandon it to return to Berlin just months after the Wall came down. Twenty-five and newly married, Spillman and his wife, the writer Elissa Schappell, moved to the anarchic streets of East Berlin in search of the bohemian lifestyle of their idols. But Spillman soon discovered he was chasing the one thing that had always eluded him: a place, or person, to call home. In his intimate, entertaining, and heartfelt memoir, Spillman narrates a colorful, music-filled coming-of-age portrait of an artist's life that is also a cultural exploration of a shifting Berlin.