Murrow: His Life and Times, A.M. Sperber

This is the hugest book ever.  I have been reading it and reading it.  It’s about Edward Murrow as you might have imagined, and I will just tell you now that Edward Murrow was quite a person.  He wasn’t always perfect (of course), but I admire him tremendously.  Everyone I know is now tired of hearing Edward R. Murrow stories.  Like the one about when he went to Buchenwald with the troops, and people there – people who were in Buchenwald – recognized him and asked if he remembered them.  And the one about how someone asked his four-year-old son Casey if he had been to the playground and Casey said, “I have not.  I have spent the day investigating Washington.”

But my favorite story is this story.  Someone Murrow knew had been blacklisted, and had subsequently (of course) had trouble finding work, so this guy was going to sue the blacklist people, and the lawyer fee was $10,000.  Edward Murrow told the guy, no worries, CBS will pay for it, it’s in everyone’s best interests that CBS pay for it; so he went and asked CBS to pay for it, and CBS said no.  So Edward Murrow said to the guy, okay, you pay what you can, and I’ll pay the rest, which was $7500.  He said he didn’t want to be paid back.  He said it was “an investment in America.”  He said he had a son to raise and he wanted this lawsuit to work out because the blacklist was paid.  And eventually the guy won the libel suit and got several million dollars, and still Edward Murrow wouldn’t let him pay him back.

So that is a really nice story.  Edward Murrow was a really good guy.  I admire him, and I enjoyed this book a lot.  It was very sad in many ways because Edward Murrow was often very depressed and felt defeated, and the author conveyed that quite well.  I found it hard to read some of it, how unhappy Edward Murrow must have been.  Like when he said it was a hell of a thing for your eight-year-old son to be called a dirty Communist.  That hurt my heart.  Poor Edward Murrow.

I thought that sometimes the author wasted a lot of time on setting up a story or anecdote that didn’t really lead anywhere; i.e., to understand the story you had to have all this very dull backstory first, and then the story itself wasn’t that interesting to start with.  As well I had the same problem I always have with biographies, which is that I couldn’t keep track of all the characters there were, which was many, many, many.

My other complaint was, not enough Janet Murrow.  I believe that Janet Murrow was a very cool and smart person, and I wanted to hear more about Edward Murrow’s family generally.  Family is important!  I wanted to know more about it!

Still, it was an excellent book.  While I was reading it, I started also watching Good Night and Good Luck, to see how it compared.  I liked it that I knew who all the characters were – aha, Robert Downey Jr. is Wershba!, I said to myself with happiness – but I decided to wait until I finished the book, to watch the movie.  So that I would know what was going to happen in the film, and also so that I could decide how I felt about the way they did all the different things.  I shall watch it tomorrow maybe.