An insider’s account of how the Washington Post broke the Watergate story, depicting the tensions, challenges, and personal conflicts that were overcome as it laid bare the criminal wrongdoings of the Nixon administration.
In this powerful memoir, Harry Rosenfeld describes his years as an editor at the New York Herald Tribune and the Washington Post, two of the greatest American newspapers in the second half of the turbulent twentieth century. After playing key roles at the Herald Tribune as it battled fiercely for its survival, he joined the Post under the leadership of Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham as they were building the paper’s national reputation. As the Post’s Metropolitan editor, Rosenfeld managed Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they broke the Watergate story, overseeing the paper’s standard-setting coverage that eventually earned it the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service. In describing his complicated relationship with Bradlee and offering an insider’s perspective on the unlikely partnership of Woodward and Bernstein, Rosenfeld depicts the tensions and challenges, triumphs and setbacks that accompanied the Post’s key role in Watergate, the most potent political scandal in America’s history.
Rosenfeld also tells the gripping story of growing up in Hitler’s Berlin. He saw his father taken away by the Gestapo in the middle of the night, and on Kristallnacht, the prelude to the Holocaust, he witnessed the burning of his synagogue and walked through streets littered with the shattered glass of Jewish businesses. After his family found refuge in America, his childhood experiences stayed with him and ultimately influenced his decision to make journalism his life’s work.
At a time when newspapers and other media are under financial pressure to cut back on investigative reporting, From Kristallnacht to Watergate reminds us why journalism matters, and why good journalism is essential to our democracy.
“…a memoir that comes alive as it re-creates the drama of politics and the press during Washington’s tumultuous 1970s … At a time when journalism seeks to reinvent itself, Rosenfeld’s story is a reminder of the need for fearless reporting that pursues the truth no matter where it leads.” — Washington Post
“Harry has a great story to tell … He knew firsthand the brutal mechanism of terror Hitler unleashed on Jews. It’s easy to trace Harry’s motivation of becoming a member of the Fourth Estate. He understood what could happen without a robust watchdog press. Harry’s book is an American immigrant’s tale as much as a newspaper memoir … But my favorite part in the entire 359 pages is how Harry met Annie. It is a beautiful love story.” — Paul Grondahl, Albany Times Union
“…[a] remarkable memoir … [and] a fascinating exploration of a golden era in journalism … the power of this volume … doesn’t lie in the specifics of the stories—which demonstrate, incidentally, that Rosenfeld could have been a great reporter, had he chosen that path rather than newsroom leadership. Rather, the book underscores that journalism’s role in preserving the freedoms Americans hold dear depends mostly upon one person after another doing their jobs with extraordinary skill and dedication, like that exemplified by the grown-up version of that little boy who walked the streets of Berlin on a tragic night of breaking glass.” — Rex Smith, Albany Times Union
“A terrific memoir by one of the great newspapermen of the era. Harry Rosenfeld was one of the key editors on Watergate. As a reader will see here, he is probing, open-minded, dogged, and unsparing of everyone including himself. Not everyone will agree with all the details, but this is real history, illuminating and told honestly with a deep sense of the moral obligation of the press.” — Bob Woodward
“Rarely has a newspaperman’s personality and experience intersected so perfectly with his time—and then been so evocatively expressed in a memoir. Harry Rosenfeld’s American journey tells a great and moving tale.” — Carl Bernstein
“This is a great American story—From Kristallnacht to Watergate, the inspiring saga of Harry Rosenfeld, arriving as a refugee and rising to the inner circle of journalists who uncovered the greatest scandal in the history of the Presidency. Harry tells it all with wit and panache, with a side order of knishes.” — Tom Brokaw
“What an American journey! Harry Rosenfeld rises from a nine-year-old Jewish refugee kid who can’t speak a word of English to become a pivotal Washington Post editor in charge of the Watergate story and overseeing Woodward and Bernstein. Further, Harry is there, on the ground, reporting from Vietnam. He has been a frontline soldier in the contemporary revolution in American journalism. His story is America’s story in the last half century. And he tells it with compelling readability in From Kristallnacht to Watergate.” — Joseph E. Persico, author of Roosevelt’s Centurions: FDR and the Commanders He Led to Victory in World War II
Harry Rosenfeld is Editor-at-Large and a consultant at the Albany Times Union. He is also a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. He lives in Albany, New York.