The Book of the Week is “Reporter, a Memoir” by Seymour M. Hersh, published in 2018.
Born in 1937 in Chicago, Hersh took over his family’s dry-cleaning business for his mother when his father died in 1954. For, his twin brother was busy at college and his older twin sisters were elsewhere. Upon attending junior college, he met a professor who changed his life; who told him that the University of Chicago was a better place to develop his talent in writing.
When Hersh worked as a copyboy for City News in Chicago, “The cops were on the take and the mob ran the city… The guys [reporters] on the street who did not get their facts straight or were consistently being out-reported did not last long.” Apparently, times have changed. In 1959, Hersh became a full-fledged reporter.
In 1966, after having acquired experience in various places, Hersh began earning his reputation for exposing ugly truths, at once depressing and infuriating, mostly about the U.S. government. No lie about the Vietnam War was too extreme to cover up the Johnson administration’s embarrassing, unethical goings-on. He and I.F. Stone were two of the few journalists who ferreted out the truth, but, since they were against the war, were smeared as pinko at best, and couldn’t be believed.
In late 1967, Hersh sold out and became press secretary for Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign. He lasted three months, for various reasons; after which, he returned to informing the public via New York Times articles, and books, about controversial, big, dirty secrets that led to serious harm to animals and humans, being perpetrated by the U.S. government.
For instance, hundreds of thousands of animals were killed by anthrax and Q fever germs (among other toxins and biological substances) in experiments around the world, in research funded by the United States.
Dugway Proving Ground in Nevada was NOT an isolated incident. “It was the same old story: A local community financially dependent on the military had kept its collective mouth shut” in connection with the deaths of six thousand sheep due to a nerve gas mishap.
Nixon tried to do an end-run around pesky Geneva Convention provisions in connection with “legalizing” defoliants and herbicides in South Vietnam. As is well known, his presidency revolved around the war. Not fun and profit.
After the war, Hersh continued churning out books and articles on Watergate, and other scandals of which the public wouldn’t have been informed but for him. Two New Yorker magazine articles ran to 25 pages each. They “… were fact-checked line by line, by two experienced young women who essentially moved to Washington for weeks.” Again, apparently, times have changed.
Hersh was subjected to harsh criticism from people who admitted they hadn’t even read his (admittedly long) book on Kissinger. Some things never change.
Read this book to learn of Hersh’s investigations into: the My Lai Massacre (whose details were revealed thanks to him), the evil activities in which Nixon, Kissinger, Robert McNamara, CIA members and others engaged, Osama bin Laden’s murder, and much more.