Powers That Be

Halberstam, David. The Powers That Be. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1979.

When I told a friend I was reading this as my last February book his eyes lit up – said that Halberstam was one of his favorites, “for the sheer irony of him.” Whatever that means.

Despite its heft (being 771 pages long), The Powers That Be was an extremely entertaining read. But, I have to confess I ran out of February and didn’t finish it in time. Back to the book: Halberstam’s style of writing is intimate. It is as if he is taking his reader into his confidences – leaning in to tell the reader secrets in a hushed, yet knowledgeable voice. His prose is not gossipy, but rather matter of fact. Yet, there is a hint of society tell-all about it. In one particular section Halberstam states Edward Murrow was “ungodly handsome” (p 40), but then does not offer proof by way of pictures or real description. The reader simply has to take his word for it (luckily I’m old enough to remember what Murrow looked like). Halberstam deftly wraps the political and economic climates around the historical who, what, where, when and why of all media giants. Events like the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, Communism, and Vietnam all played a crucial part in influencing print, radio and television communications. How the world received information changed all landscapes – political, economic, social, forever.

BookLust Twist: Mentioned twice in More Book Lust. First in the chapter called, “The Fourth Estate” (p 92) and in the chapter, “David Halberstam: Too Good To Miss” (p 112).

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