Rave Re­view

Reporter Sey­mour Hersh (Pen­guin Ran­dom House, $55)

North & South - - Monthly Review - JENNY NI­CHOLLS

“Sy” Hersh, at 81, calls him­self a sur­vivor from “the golden age of jour­nal­ism, when daily news­pa­pers were flush with cash”. The son of a Lithua­nian im­mi­grant who ran a dryclean­ing shop in Chicago, Hersh came to sym­bol­ise the clas­sic gumshoe reporter, a thorn in the side of es­tab­lish­ment buttcov­er­ers ev­ery­where – even in the me­dia. One of the book’s many glo­ries is his dead­pan ac­count of the My Lai scoop, which won him a Pulitzer. “I tucked in my shirt, drew my tie tight, grabbed my jacket and brief­case, and climbed out of the car, look­ing ev­ery bit like a lawyer, I hoped.” Af­ter man­ag­ing to copy an up­side- down charge sheet while “in­ter­view­ing” a re­tired judge, Hersh finds Lieu­tenant Wil­liam Cal­ley Jr and breaks the story of the mas­sacre of women and chil­dren by US troops in Viet­nam. Hersh emerges as a ver­i­ta­ble hu­man squir­rel: no Wash­ing­ton DC fil­ing cab­i­net is safe from him, or the sources he still guards. Al­though his world view today is some­times un­con­vinc­ing, this me­moir is a mag­nif­i­cent read, for its wryly told, scan­dalously newsy yarns.

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