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.
"Make it a Beefeater, I'd tell the bartender. Beefeater. I grew to like the sound of the word. I looked for opportunities to say it."
On November 21, 1965, Bob Horton wrote a story that ended up winning him the annual APME award (Associated Press Managing Editor's Association). At the time a rookie in Washington, he was a small town Texas boy who had made it to the nation's capital. He was assigned to cover sidebars during the trial of Jack Ruby for killing Harvey Lee Oswald, the man believed to have assassinated President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. What he discovered and wrote about to win this award was chilling.
Ira D. Gearheart is a man few of us have heard of who was with President Kennedy on the day he was shot, who waited "unobtrousively" in the hospital. Gearheart carried what was called "the football" or "the message" or "the Black Box," which was actually just a brown leather briefcase.
It contained the codes for the President to be able to order bombs and nuclear weapons, at any time, at any place. Here is the quote that describes why Horton won the award:
"When President Kennedy died, Gearheart picked up the briefcase and strode past the emergency room desk into the surgery suite where, behind drawn shades, sat Lyndon B. Johnson.
And with those footseps, Bob Horton wrote: 'came the first real, if not formal, transfer of presidential power.'"
Horton undoubtedly saw and wrote about many things that I'm sure would cause many of us normal citizens to stop and think. While this memoir doesn't delve very deeply into his actual news bulletins, it does describe how Horton went from small town boy to member of a very powerful club of reporters during a fascinating time in history. As is seen from the original quote, Horton also describes how alcoholism eventually overpowered him, to the point that his sons did not know much about his past achievements, which is what prompted him to write this memoir.
Many will find this book interesting and compelling, as I did. It is rare to find the inner workings of Texas life enmeshed with a memoir about reporting Washington politics. Even more rare is an honest book about the path to and through alcoholism and some of the processes of Alcoholics Anonymous. For me, that was the heart of the book and one that can be of help to all.
Mr. Horton, I enjoyed your book and am glad I read it. Thank you for the advance copy so that I could read and review it. Readers, if this has interested you, I hope you'll enter the contest and then also go add this book to your book lists of TBR.
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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