A NEWSMAN’S STORY OF RECOVERY
Genre: Journalism / Memoir
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Date of Publication: March 2017
Number of Pages: 284
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Bob Horton began his journalism career as a reporter for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Innate skill and good fortune took him from a modest Texas farm upbringing to Washington, DC, where he was thrown into the high-pressure world of the wire service, first as a correspondent for the Associated Press, and later for Reuters news agency. The stress was intense, but he found the rush to be intoxicating.
From his early days covering the Dallas murder trial of Jack Ruby, through three colorful decades as a newsman, Horton often found himself witnessing history in the making. He covered the Pentagon during the early days of the Vietnam War, was on board a Navy ship in the Mediterranean awaiting Israel’s expected attack on Egypt, was witness to the Watergate burglary trial, and attended a Beverly Hills church service with then-President-elect Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy.
The success Horton enjoyed as a journalist mostly hid the dark side of his career: a gradual descent into alcoholism. Of Bulletins and Booze candidly recounts the unforgettable moments of Horton’s career, as well as more than a few moments he would just as soon forget.
“Achieve little victories and people expect bigger things.”
Of Bulletins and Booze is an engaging account filled with history (from a newsman’s perspective), personal success, and personal defeat. With a ringside seat to many global events stretching across several US presidencies, Bob Horton looks back on a life punctuated by amazing moments of journalistic opportunities and achievements, enviable acquaintances, and unique encounters. He also provides a look back on his childhood and family and personal life. But all this is only part of Horton’s journey. He shows stark bravery in telling how he painstakingly came to terms with his escalating downward spiral into alcoholism, denial, and misplaced ego.
What makes this a 5-star book (for me, at least) is the overall feeling of humility that builds and culminates at the end of this memoir as well as the eventual gratefulness for an amazing career and a fervent desire to tell the world that even the most successful and accomplished person can corkscrew out of control and make wrong and even off-the-wall decisions sometimes.
While Horton clearly owns his mistakes and bad choices, his story offers a unique and exciting glimpse into the world of journalism when journalism meant being on the front lines and at the right place at the right time and getting that tip off or that scrap of news and running with it. Unlike today, where we’re bombarded with information from every angle, most of Horton’s journalism career spanned the years when people had to wait for the morning or evening paper to get the latest news or wait for news broadcasts on the radio and TV, all an exercise in patience most people today couldn’t even fathom.
But it’s not all about bulletins and bylines. While booze and other substances were negative influences on Horton’s life, career, and marriages, this guy always seems to land on his feet. I have to say the story jumps unexpectedly every now and then; however, intended or not, I think that style fits perfectly. Horton is a journalist used to pitching out a story at a moment’s notice, and the sometimes clipped delivery mimics that fast-paced life of fast news, fast drinking, and fast edge-of-your-seat connections in that bygone era. Well done!
Enter the Giveaway below for a chance to win a signed copy of Of Bulletins and Booze: A Newsman’s Story of Recovery by Bob Horton.
Bob Horton has been in the news business for more than fifty years. In 1966 he received the Top Reporting Performance Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors organization, and in 1968 he and an AP cohort were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for general coverage of the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Today he is a radio news anchor with shows in Lubbock and Victoria, Texas. He lives in Lubbock.
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