“The Most Trusted Man in America”

9780061374265

For all of those who experienced the broadcasts from a man that covered some of America’s most important events in history, you would love the biography on Walter Cronkite. Douglas Brinkley, not only a writer but also a professor of history and American Politics, wrote the biography Cronkite. The book opens up with a quote from Tom Wolfe that summarizes Walter Cronkite’s existence in the media:

“Walter Cronkite- for godsake, there are millions of people out there, 19, 20, 21, ridiculous ages like that, who think there has always been a Walter Cronkite. After the fashion of Franklin Roosevelt, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny. Every time there would be one of those great hulking Moments in History, an election, a national convention, a man in space, Kennedy’s assignation, there would be the face of Walter Cronkite on TV, with his hair combed straight back over his sagittal suture and his mustache spreading out like Melvyn Douglas after a good rousing heigh-ho afternoon at the St. Regis barbershop and his head tilted with him holding an earphone over one ear and then his voice coming out flue-cured Southern with the drawl trimmed off.”

Brinkley takes you through the life of Cronkite before and after his famous broadcasting days.  Walter Cronkite was born in St. Joseph, Missouri then moved to Houston where a moment “that signaled a career in telecommunications” took place.  “Cronkite constructed telegraph lines in the same way some kids practice cello or piano five hours a day” said Brinkley.  After graduating high school in 1933 he went to the Chicago’s World Fair and was immediately fascinated with the exhibit that offered an “interactive display” called “See Yourself on TV”.  When he was informed that The Daily Texan was “an amazing college paper”, Walter Cronkite enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin.  His goal later on was to be a journalist with a specialization in political analysis.  He continued to write for not only The Daily Texan but for other Texas newspapers.

Cronkite eventually left print journalism and adopted broadcasting at the KCMO studio.  After being fired from KCMO due to his need to be honest and became night editor for the Kansas City of the United Press.  He was sent to Europe to cover World War II for UP and transferred to London for most of his reporting experience with the war.  Due to his popular broadcasting during World War II CBS News would ask him to send in some of his reports.  He was later offered by Murrow to join CBS Radio but turned it down.  Although he declined the position at CBS, they continued to offer him spots.  Cronkite said “Despite my turning down Ed’s offer, CBS kept inviting me to do pieces on the air.”

After his famous broadcasts during World War II and the Cold War, Cronkite became an anchorman and editor for CBS Evening News.  His reports on events that made history also made history.  He connected with the people and gave them the truth, what they wanted to hear.  He covered President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the moon mission, Nixon’s Watergate scandal, the Civil Rights Movement, and so much more that you can read in great description in this biography from Douglas Brinkley.

I really would recommend this book to anyone.  It is a great read for those who had first hand experience with Walter Cronkite’s famous broadcasts.  I also think it is a great read even for people who were not alive when he was broadcasting big events for the United States.  He had such an impact on the American people that I feel like everyone should read about how amazing him and his broadcasts were.  He told it how it was and became “The Most Trusted Man in America”.  Brinkley did a great job of talking about Walter Cronkite’s life from beginning to end.  I bought this book off of Amazon, used paperback, for around six dollars.  The price does range depending on who you are buying it from.  It is 700 pages but worth the read.

Click on the link below to see an example of one of Cronkite’s most famous broadcasts:

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