Hot Best Seller

My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir

Availability: Ready to download

In a dramatic, moving work of historical reporting and personal discovery, Mark Whitaker, award-winning journalist, sets out to trace the story of what happened to his parents, a fascinating but star-crossed interracial couple, and arrives at a new understanding of the family dramas that shaped their lives—and his own. His father, “Syl” Whitaker, was the charismatic grands In a dramatic, moving work of historical reporting and personal discovery, Mark Whitaker, award-winning journalist, sets out to trace the story of what happened to his parents, a fascinating but star-crossed interracial couple, and arrives at a new understanding of the family dramas that shaped their lives—and his own. His father, “Syl” Whitaker, was the charismatic grandson of slaves who grew up the child of black undertakers from Pittsburgh and went on to become a groundbreaking scholar of Africa. His mother, Jeanne Theis, was a shy World War II refugee from France whose father, a Huguenot pastor, helped hide thousands of Jews from the Nazis and Vichy police. They met in the mid-1950s, when he was a college student and she was his professor, and they carried on a secret romance for more than a year before marrying and having two boys. Eventually they split in a bitter divorce that was followed by decades of unhappiness as his mother coped with self-recrimination and depression while trying to raise her sons by herself, and his father spiraled into an alcoholic descent that destroyed his once meteoric career. Based on extensive interviews and documentary research as well as his own personal recollections and insights, My Long Trip Home is a reporter’s search for the factual and emotional truth about a complicated and compelling family, a successful adult’s exploration of how he rose from a turbulent childhood to a groundbreaking career, and, ultimately, a son’s haunting meditation on the nature of love, loss, identity, and forgiveness.


Compare

In a dramatic, moving work of historical reporting and personal discovery, Mark Whitaker, award-winning journalist, sets out to trace the story of what happened to his parents, a fascinating but star-crossed interracial couple, and arrives at a new understanding of the family dramas that shaped their lives—and his own. His father, “Syl” Whitaker, was the charismatic grands In a dramatic, moving work of historical reporting and personal discovery, Mark Whitaker, award-winning journalist, sets out to trace the story of what happened to his parents, a fascinating but star-crossed interracial couple, and arrives at a new understanding of the family dramas that shaped their lives—and his own. His father, “Syl” Whitaker, was the charismatic grandson of slaves who grew up the child of black undertakers from Pittsburgh and went on to become a groundbreaking scholar of Africa. His mother, Jeanne Theis, was a shy World War II refugee from France whose father, a Huguenot pastor, helped hide thousands of Jews from the Nazis and Vichy police. They met in the mid-1950s, when he was a college student and she was his professor, and they carried on a secret romance for more than a year before marrying and having two boys. Eventually they split in a bitter divorce that was followed by decades of unhappiness as his mother coped with self-recrimination and depression while trying to raise her sons by herself, and his father spiraled into an alcoholic descent that destroyed his once meteoric career. Based on extensive interviews and documentary research as well as his own personal recollections and insights, My Long Trip Home is a reporter’s search for the factual and emotional truth about a complicated and compelling family, a successful adult’s exploration of how he rose from a turbulent childhood to a groundbreaking career, and, ultimately, a son’s haunting meditation on the nature of love, loss, identity, and forgiveness.

30 review for My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan (aka Just My Op)

    (3.5 out of 5 stars) First of all, I have to admit that I didn't know who journalist and news executive Mark Whitaker is, I just wanted to read this book because I like memoirs and I thought the story of a child born to a white mother and a black father during a time of blatant racism would be interesting. And it was. Whitaker's parents were both caring, intelligent people who were both a bit dysfunctional in very different ways. This isn't a The Glass Castle or A Child Called It kind of dysfuncti (3.5 out of 5 stars) First of all, I have to admit that I didn't know who journalist and news executive Mark Whitaker is, I just wanted to read this book because I like memoirs and I thought the story of a child born to a white mother and a black father during a time of blatant racism would be interesting. And it was. Whitaker's parents were both caring, intelligent people who were both a bit dysfunctional in very different ways. This isn't a The Glass Castle or A Child Called It kind of dysfunctional, thank heavens. It is more about a very loving mother who perhaps was overwhelmed by her situation and her relationship with her husband. But mostly, it is about a father who needs to feel important but doesn't deal well with responsibility and too often takes the easy way out. And of course, about the children of that relationship. We see all this through the eyes of the author as it seemed to him as a child and then through his adult perspective. I was surprised that there were not more reports of racism in the book. While it had to be very hard to be a biracial family in those times, extended family seemed loving and accepting. I loved the stories of international travel, and especially the stories of bravery during WWII. Early in the book, I had a problem with some pronouns, was not sure what person the author meant, but that lessened as I got used to the author's style. His style didn't always appeal to me, could have been both a little more interesting and have had fewer details in some areas, but that is probably more about me than it is about the author's style. All in all, this is a highly readable look at a successful person and how he came to be on that path. Thank you to the publisher for giving me an advance reader's copy of the book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    W.

    At it's core, My Long Trip Home is a very American story, even though it spans three continents. Reviewers will be tempted to peg this as a book about race and racial identity, but it is so much more than that. It is a book about family, and the family just happens to be multiracial. Given today's shifting racial demographics, I can't think of anything more American. Mark Whittaker has done some serious research on his family and he has done a tremendous amount of soul searching. This was a book At it's core, My Long Trip Home is a very American story, even though it spans three continents. Reviewers will be tempted to peg this as a book about race and racial identity, but it is so much more than that. It is a book about family, and the family just happens to be multiracial. Given today's shifting racial demographics, I can't think of anything more American. Mark Whittaker has done some serious research on his family and he has done a tremendous amount of soul searching. This was a book written out of love, not bitterness, although Whittaker does have a right to be bitter about some aspects of his life. I was so taken by this book that I read it in only a couple of sittings.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia F Davidson

    Cross-cultural and mixed race memoirs are among my favorites, due to my personal family experiences abroad, so I chose to listen to the audio version of this book for those reasons. Although it was not one of my book club’s selections, it could catalyze some serious discussions if you are looking for a memoir of substance. Surprisingly Mark Whittaker’s accounting of his life resonated with me even more than expected. This is due in great part to his multifaceted point of view about US history. H Cross-cultural and mixed race memoirs are among my favorites, due to my personal family experiences abroad, so I chose to listen to the audio version of this book for those reasons. Although it was not one of my book club’s selections, it could catalyze some serious discussions if you are looking for a memoir of substance. Surprisingly Mark Whittaker’s accounting of his life resonated with me even more than expected. This is due in great part to his multifaceted point of view about US history. He shared a lot about how his mother’s work as a professor, and her struggles as a single mother trying to keep her two sons fed and clothed when their father left and didn’t did not fulfill his responsibilities, to even pay child support. Yet she persevered while her ex-husband spiraled downwards into alcoholism for decades. Despite these hardships, or perhaps because of them, Mark ended up playing a pivotal role, in breaking the race barrier as a journalist at Newsweek magazine and then at NBC. His Protestant French maternal family connections and their work in the Resistance during WWII are fascinating. And so is the courage and dynamism of his black American ancestors, especially his entrepreneurial paternal grandmother, Edith. His being raised as a Quaker and then marrying into the Jewish faith also round out the story of a quintessentially American life full of choices and the freedoms to make them.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    I finished this book on BART on my way in this morning, and I was in tears. I think that Mark Whitaker did a remarkable service to his mother and father by writing this book. It really makes me want to interview my family to make sure my family history is recorded for posterity. Yesterday, I read a passage of an exchange that Mark had with his father that completely resonated with me for some things I'm seeing lately. It's from page 285 and briefly quoted here: "Human nature is to abuse power. You I finished this book on BART on my way in this morning, and I was in tears. I think that Mark Whitaker did a remarkable service to his mother and father by writing this book. It really makes me want to interview my family to make sure my family history is recorded for posterity. Yesterday, I read a passage of an exchange that Mark had with his father that completely resonated with me for some things I'm seeing lately. It's from page 285 and briefly quoted here: "Human nature is to abuse power. You see that in Africa, where there are so few constraints against it. Every soldier at a checkpoint feels free to wave his gun at you. Every customs official feels entitled to shake you down for a bribe." "Well, first you can learn that the questino is not why people abuse power, but what checks are in place to prevent them from doing so." "Look, you also have to realize that most people who abuse power don't think they're doing it. They've justified it based on their own view of the world." "An old friend of mine had an expression: Everyone has their own set of jokes. It was a metaphor, but what it meant was that every person, every tribe, has their own traditions and prejudices and ways of defending their actions. You may not think that their jokes are funny, but you're not going to convince them of that. And if you want to operate in their world, you have to learn their jokes. So by all means try to be normative, as we political scientists like to say. Do your best to be fair and rational and hope that it will set an example and encourage others to respond in kind. But remember: That's just your set of jokes. And don't be surprised if the world doesn't always respond in kind. Because then the joke will be on you." all quotes are from Mark's father, Syl Whitaker

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Mark Whitaker is former editor of Newsweek. His parents were both college professors. His father, a much-lauded expert on African studies, esp. Nigerian politics, was African American. His mother, a professor of French literature, emigrated to the U.S. from France as a child during WW II. With a family background like that, the story couldn't help but be interesting. The first 2/3 of the book, in which Mark recounts his family's various stories, from his Whitaker grandparents' rise to prominence Mark Whitaker is former editor of Newsweek. His parents were both college professors. His father, a much-lauded expert on African studies, esp. Nigerian politics, was African American. His mother, a professor of French literature, emigrated to the U.S. from France as a child during WW II. With a family background like that, the story couldn't help but be interesting. The first 2/3 of the book, in which Mark recounts his family's various stories, from his Whitaker grandparents' rise to prominence as black funeral directors to his Theis grandfather's heroic role in protecting Jews during WW II is absolutely gripping. Mark's parents have some very happy years but eventually divorce, in large part due to his father's alcoholism. The last third of the book is largely about Mark's struggle to develop an identity and a career largely on his own. While the book ends with the memoir's traditional platitude that "I finally understand my parents. My dad wasn't all bad and I really do owe my mom a lot" I was not very satisfied. Given Mark's incredibly privileged education, it seems to me he could have probed a little deeper into what led to the obvious "bully/victim" roles his parents fell into. I also wonder that he doesn't consider what role the patriarchal worlds of academics and also Nigerian politics in which his father was deeply invested played in his father's refusal to acknowledge his own faults. Overall, I guess I was just disappointed that there wasn't deeper cultural analysis here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Simon & Schuster Goodreads

    From Nick, our summer marketing intern! "In MY LONG TRIP HOME: A Family Memoir (Simon & Schuster; HC 9781451627541, e-book 9781451627565, October 2011), journalist Mark Whitaker examines his family history and the people and events that have shaped the man he is today. After an astonishing early career as a groundbreaking black scholar of Africa, his father spiraled into an alcoholic descent that resulted in the abandonment of his French wife and their two children—an issue that impacted Whitake From Nick, our summer marketing intern! "In MY LONG TRIP HOME: A Family Memoir (Simon & Schuster; HC 9781451627541, e-book 9781451627565, October 2011), journalist Mark Whitaker examines his family history and the people and events that have shaped the man he is today. After an astonishing early career as a groundbreaking black scholar of Africa, his father spiraled into an alcoholic descent that resulted in the abandonment of his French wife and their two children—an issue that impacted Whitaker greatly and one he explores in-depth. It is this event that sets the scene for the memoir, as Whitaker and his family struggle to overcome that rejection. My Long Trip Home is in many ways a coming of age story, told with a reporter’s attention to detail and, remarkably, without prejudice. Only once his father has passed does Mark fully learn to accept his parents for who they are and come to terms with his rough childhood. I love stories of family relationships, and this one does not disappoint. Whitaker explores the ways his past continues to impact his present, contrasting his depressed and impoverished upbringing with the sophisticated lifestyle he became a part of as an adult. My Long Trip Home is a reporter’s search to identify himself amid a complex family, and the emotional burden that is lifted once he learns the truth about his past."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Florence

    Mark Whitaker has a colorful family background and that is not just a pun. His mother is one of eight French sisters, daughter of a French pastor who protected Jewish citizens during the Holocaust. Six of the young sisters were sent to New York to escape World War II, raging in Europe. Mark's father was an African American academic with a promising career which he sabatoged with alcohol and hubris. Mark expresses a lot of bitterness toward his father which he never completely resolves. The story Mark Whitaker has a colorful family background and that is not just a pun. His mother is one of eight French sisters, daughter of a French pastor who protected Jewish citizens during the Holocaust. Six of the young sisters were sent to New York to escape World War II, raging in Europe. Mark's father was an African American academic with a promising career which he sabatoged with alcohol and hubris. Mark expresses a lot of bitterness toward his father which he never completely resolves. The story of his father's failed marriages, multiple career moves is quite exhausting. But Mark eventually finds his path as a journalist with a loving, intact family.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Mark Whitaker’s My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir tells Whitaker’s personal story of being raised by a black father and white mother, but it also recounts a great deal of his family history. Whitaker used his journalistic skills to do an impressive amount of research into both sides of his family, and the book is just as much a tribute to his parents and grandparents as it is a testimony of his own experiences. Whitaker even included several photographs of his various relatives. Despite these g Mark Whitaker’s My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir tells Whitaker’s personal story of being raised by a black father and white mother, but it also recounts a great deal of his family history. Whitaker used his journalistic skills to do an impressive amount of research into both sides of his family, and the book is just as much a tribute to his parents and grandparents as it is a testimony of his own experiences. Whitaker even included several photographs of his various relatives. Despite these good qualities, there were still several elements of the book that were disappointing. He gives many details about some aspects and sparse details about others, making the histories sometimes difficult to follow. Moreover, he jumps right into his parents’ and grandparents’ histories without giving any sense of what the “family” was like – as a reader, I got no sense of how these people lived, collectively. It was like reading the biographies of several different people, where I, as a reader, neither understood their connection to each other (beyond knowing, of course, that they would eventually be Whitaker’s grandparents) nor formed any emotional link with their situations. If Whitaker had begun with his own personal experiences and introduced the grandparents though their grandparenting roles, as he had known them, then there might have been a stronger pull for the readers to read more. As it is, I found this book so difficult to get through that after a month of trying, I finally gave up. I hope to come back to this book sometime in a few months, perhaps. Whitaker’s family has had some interesting experiences, and parts of this book are worth reading for the racial commentary alone. I received this book for free from Goodreads Firstreads Giveaways.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sull

    Good, involving tale of growing up biracial with a difficult and often absent father whose flaws haunted the author's life. Brilliant & charismatic, yet self-centered & fickle, he came & went, a law unto himself, frustrating, disappointing & occasionally enraging his son, impossible to ignore, impossible to forgive, almost impossible to understand.... This autobiog is the attempt to understand, & it's gripping in parts, especially the parts that show what it was like to grow up mixed-race with an Good, involving tale of growing up biracial with a difficult and often absent father whose flaws haunted the author's life. Brilliant & charismatic, yet self-centered & fickle, he came & went, a law unto himself, frustrating, disappointing & occasionally enraging his son, impossible to ignore, impossible to forgive, almost impossible to understand.... This autobiog is the attempt to understand, & it's gripping in parts, especially the parts that show what it was like to grow up mixed-race with an intelligent white mother who did her best when that wasn't easy (60s & 70s). The "extended family" sections are great--the grandparents on both sides were a consistant & unconditional source of love for mother & children--but moving from place to place as his college prof mom sought jobs to support & educate MW & his little brother after she gave up hope of any financial support from their father took a heavy toll on any affection he may have had for his dad. Late in the Dad's life they would both try to connect, with limited success, but the whole book is in a way the shout of a hurt child who *knows* he will never, never in a million years be anything like his dad.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I really enjoyed this autobiography. Not my typical favorite genre, but Whitaker's story had many aspects/settings/themes that drew me in and kept me involved. I appreciated gaining a new perspective on growing up in a biracial family. When I was growing up, one boy in our school was like Mark, and I never thought really about what he went through, 20 years ago. I have a new perspective and appreciation. However, Mark did have a much better life than the boy I knew (as in an excellent education) I really enjoyed this autobiography. Not my typical favorite genre, but Whitaker's story had many aspects/settings/themes that drew me in and kept me involved. I appreciated gaining a new perspective on growing up in a biracial family. When I was growing up, one boy in our school was like Mark, and I never thought really about what he went through, 20 years ago. I have a new perspective and appreciation. However, Mark did have a much better life than the boy I knew (as in an excellent education). I loved that his parents grew up in different places, and that Europe was part of the story (any novel with France as a setting is appealing). Just read a Picoult book about the Holocaust, so the parts about treatment of the Jews during WWII hit home with me. All in all, good book. I'd recommend it, more to my husband or friends who are into true stories with a lot of history, rather than my girlfriends who share my love of fiction. However, as an English teacher, I appreciate so many aspects of the novel/writing style/themes/lessons my students could learn from.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This is a highly readable and poignant memoir of Mark Whitaker, CNN executive (formerly with CBS News and past editor of Newsweek)and his parents -- his father an African-American born in Pittsburgh, who was the first black to get a Ph.D in Political Science from Princeton, and his mother, the French daughter of missionaries in the Cameroons who came to America to escape World War II and stayed to become a professor of French, first at Swarthmore and then at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Whi This is a highly readable and poignant memoir of Mark Whitaker, CNN executive (formerly with CBS News and past editor of Newsweek)and his parents -- his father an African-American born in Pittsburgh, who was the first black to get a Ph.D in Political Science from Princeton, and his mother, the French daughter of missionaries in the Cameroons who came to America to escape World War II and stayed to become a professor of French, first at Swarthmore and then at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Whitaker has a tumultuous relationship with his father and only comes to understand him better after his death. His parents divorce early in his life, and his mother struggles as a single parent to provide a home for her two boys. The stories of Whitaker's grandparents and father give insight into the lives of African-Americans who become successful, yet still encounter discrimination in many aspects of their lives. I highly recommend this book!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Shadwick

    This book was just an average read. I think I didn't relate to the bi-racial theme. It is a well written family memoir with pictures included. The pictures helped me understand who I was reading about. I was bored by it. With all the interesting books available, I was not happy that I was wasting time reading this book to write a review. The book would make a great book for reading groups because of all the discussions topics it contains. This book was just an average read. I think I didn't relate to the bi-racial theme. It is a well written family memoir with pictures included. The pictures helped me understand who I was reading about. I was bored by it. With all the interesting books available, I was not happy that I was wasting time reading this book to write a review. The book would make a great book for reading groups because of all the discussions topics it contains.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mary Frances

    Wow, I was hoping for an interesting and well written story and instead this book is surprisingly dull for a book about a mixed race marriage in the 1950s, and the life of a child from that marriage. It is so devoid of emotion as to make all of the characters cardboard figures.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    The last of 3 memoirs I read for the Elle book jury, and by far the best. An intriguing family past, combined with the lessons he learns from both of his parents' experiences, made for a great read. The last of 3 memoirs I read for the Elle book jury, and by far the best. An intriguing family past, combined with the lessons he learns from both of his parents' experiences, made for a great read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Booreiss

    This was a great memoir...as it tells an all too common story mixed with history. I cannot imagine having to face my parents weaknesses and mistakes and to actually write them down and edit and read over again. Whitaker's story is brutally honest and heartbreaking. This was a great memoir...as it tells an all too common story mixed with history. I cannot imagine having to face my parents weaknesses and mistakes and to actually write them down and edit and read over again. Whitaker's story is brutally honest and heartbreaking.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nelisiwe

    An entertaining family memoir told from the point of view of a talented American mixed-race reporter.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Traumas, trials and triumphs of family life, particularly the dysfunctional dynamics between father & son. Pittsburgh connection.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nayelli Sosa

    My Long Trip Home, is an interesting great book. The author did an excellent job on explaining each chapter. Mark could have wrote more of Paul and his opinion on his family. My Long Trip Home is one of the best books I have ever read. I definitely recommend everyone to read it!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This was another bookshelf surprise - a book I had not read. It was interesting yet extremely depressing. Mark Whitaker's relationship - or lack thereof - was fraught with regrets, recriminations and outright hostility. Yet another story about a drunken, abusive, deadbeat Father regardless of his professional success (and numerous failures). Rather than try to understand the cause of his Father's problems and behaviors, Whitaker spent the entire book whining about the effects on his outlook to l This was another bookshelf surprise - a book I had not read. It was interesting yet extremely depressing. Mark Whitaker's relationship - or lack thereof - was fraught with regrets, recriminations and outright hostility. Yet another story about a drunken, abusive, deadbeat Father regardless of his professional success (and numerous failures). Rather than try to understand the cause of his Father's problems and behaviors, Whitaker spent the entire book whining about the effects on his outlook to life. His Mother receives little sympathy for the impact of an interracial marriage (in the Jim Crow era) nor respect for her abilities to overcome significant hardships. The "estrangement" from Brother Paul is glossed over as if he does not even exist. This is a depressing and distressing story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Mark Whitaker, managing editor of CNN Worldwide (and previously a long-time top editor at Newsweek magazine), wrote this memoir as a tribute to his family, past and present. He wrote to tell the story of his family to his children, Rachel and Matthew, and he also wrote to document the lives of his divorced parents, Jeanne Whitaker and Syl Whitaker. The book is Whitaker's personal journalistic investigation. The story itself is detailed and interesting. Mark was born to a white, French mother and Mark Whitaker, managing editor of CNN Worldwide (and previously a long-time top editor at Newsweek magazine), wrote this memoir as a tribute to his family, past and present. He wrote to tell the story of his family to his children, Rachel and Matthew, and he also wrote to document the lives of his divorced parents, Jeanne Whitaker and Syl Whitaker. The book is Whitaker's personal journalistic investigation. The story itself is detailed and interesting. Mark was born to a white, French mother and a black father. The couple met in the 1950's at Swarthmore College where she was teaching and he was a student. The relationship was doomed from the start and only lasted a few years. After their split, Mark and his brother suffered through the destructive alcoholism of their absent father, the depression of their mother and their own terrible sibling fighting. But Mark does not dwell on any of these things for too long. He also tells the stories of his grandparents (French patriots who stood up against Hitler, and a pair of funeral parlor owners who had their own marital strife) and the impact that these relatives had on his parents and himself. The memoir continues through Mark's life, focusing on his personal and career development (especially in relation to his parents and family). It seems like the marketing for this book is promoting his story as a tale of being biracial and the tension that this may have caused in his life. But, this book is definitely not about race, it is more about cultural difference and exchange, and ultimately it is about family. Mark's description of his father's life is a gripping tale of extreme highs and (mostly) lows. His own relationship with his father was marked by anger and bitterness. But, throughout reading the book I felt that something was missing. Mark, himself, knew little about his father's academic and political work as it occurred, even though his father was involved in many interesting projects. I was eager to hear more about Syl Whitaker's successful side because the memoir seemed so full of his failures. Mark seems to credit his successes (professionally and his family life) as reactions (rebellions?) to how he viewed his father (as a failure). But his belief in strong families seems somewhat disingenuous given his lack of trying to repair his relationships with his father and his brother (although his brother is mostly left out of the book, so maybe there is something unsaid and unknown to the reader). In the end, the memoir exposes much of the effects of the divorce on Mark, and he doesn't come out as a perfect angel, but as a human being, flawed and hurt, but also wanting to do better for himself and his children. This investigation into his family has certainly allowed him (and us) to understand better where he came from and that, after all, he can forgive his father for not being a great father. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book in a First Reads Giveaway.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Hagen

    My Long Trip Home: a Family Memoir, by Mark Whitaker, Narrated by Robertson Dean, Produced by Tantor Audio, Downloaded from audible.com. Mark Whitaker was a reporter and then chief editor of Newsweek for 30 years. Then he left to become news director for NBC, where he currently is. Whitaker is what he himself calls a mulatto, half White and half Black. His father was Black-a well-known political science professor who ultimately was brought low by alcoholism, although during the last years of his My Long Trip Home: a Family Memoir, by Mark Whitaker, Narrated by Robertson Dean, Produced by Tantor Audio, Downloaded from audible.com. Mark Whitaker was a reporter and then chief editor of Newsweek for 30 years. Then he left to become news director for NBC, where he currently is. Whitaker is what he himself calls a mulatto, half White and half Black. His father was Black-a well-known political science professor who ultimately was brought low by alcoholism, although during the last years of his life he was sober. Mark credits his father with political wisdom that he himself counted on, even though his father was fairly distant as a father his whole life. Whitaker’s mother came from a French family of eight daughters. During the WW II, their parents sent all eight girls to the United States to avoid the Nazis as they came into France. Six of the eight came back to France to live after the war, but Whitaker’s mother stayed in the United States. She met Mark’s father in college and they were married. His mother divorced his father who went on to marry twice more. Mark’s upbringing was very cosmopolitan, involving East Coast colleges where his father taught, and his eventual college years at Harvard. And his mother’s European influence with most of her family still living in France. While Whitaker majored in social studies in school, he was lucky enough to land a couple of college internships at Newsweek which turned into a full-time job for 30 years. He met his wife also working at Newsweek. This is an excellent book traces some of the influences that occurred for him and his father because they were Black, as well as discussing the political events of his own time through Newsweek and now NBC. Robertson Dean did an excellent job of narrating. He kept it fairly low-key, which was just right.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tnb

    My objection to this book is that it is unnecessarily long. If the monetary return for the author is by page or by word written, I understand. Otherwise, it was an interesting story. Half way through I was wondering why it has been told at all. The author makes a shallow quick wrap-up at the end and puts on a little bow, but I was not content. I felt as if he asked the very same question himself and had to say something. I was struck that he labels his child as unhappy and brutal. To some extent My objection to this book is that it is unnecessarily long. If the monetary return for the author is by page or by word written, I understand. Otherwise, it was an interesting story. Half way through I was wondering why it has been told at all. The author makes a shallow quick wrap-up at the end and puts on a little bow, but I was not content. I felt as if he asked the very same question himself and had to say something. I was struck that he labels his child as unhappy and brutal. To some extent I can agree. I have a friend who also moved a lot through childhood and was stressed over it. On the other hand, I have friends who lived without one parent and they turned out ok without suffering any major set-backs. I was surprised at some of the bold statements. I was glad that he talked about depression and alcoholism and especially the final resort which helped his father. I do believe that one needs to recognize a problem before attempting to resolve it. My own family has an example of this, and the problem is not recognized yet. I was also glad that the author talks about how he grew into his profession, and how much luck had to do with his rise. Hard word and good education can get your foot in the door, but luck is the ingredient that nobody talks about. Luck can be improved by lots of networking. This, to me, is the most important message-network, network for success.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Mark Whitaker, a prominent journalist who has held prominent positions with CNN, NBC, and Newsweek, shares his memoirs with us. His is an emotional story, one of growing up as a biracial child trying to understand his identity. As an adult, he used his own personal knowledge and did additional research, to gain a better understanding of his family history and therefore, himself. His mother was a young white college teacher. His father was her black student. The two eventually fell in love and be Mark Whitaker, a prominent journalist who has held prominent positions with CNN, NBC, and Newsweek, shares his memoirs with us. His is an emotional story, one of growing up as a biracial child trying to understand his identity. As an adult, he used his own personal knowledge and did additional research, to gain a better understanding of his family history and therefore, himself. His mother was a young white college teacher. His father was her black student. The two eventually fell in love and began a relationship, and later married. Yet happiness was not to be. Mark and a brother, Paul, came along before things fell apart and the parents split. Mark recounts being raised by his single mother within the academic community, but also shares fond memories of his father's family, who ran a funeral home for years. Mr. Whitaker ultimately comes to the conclusion, as we all must, that no matter the past that shaped us, that in the end it is the individual that must decide who he or she truly is. The book was published in October, 2011 from Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-2754-1. It includes a selection of black and white photos of the author and his family. Suggested retail price is $25.99 in the US, or $29.99 in Canada.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    The book is thoroughly researched and well written but I would not go as far to say as the blurb on the cover does "One of the most beautifully written and skillfully reported memoirs I have ever read". There is something about journalists, who when writing about themselves, seem unable not to include all the names of everyone who had even the most minimal impact on their life. I suspect its difficult to resist the impulse to tell the whole truth much as they are trained to do in their reporting The book is thoroughly researched and well written but I would not go as far to say as the blurb on the cover does "One of the most beautifully written and skillfully reported memoirs I have ever read". There is something about journalists, who when writing about themselves, seem unable not to include all the names of everyone who had even the most minimal impact on their life. I suspect its difficult to resist the impulse to tell the whole truth much as they are trained to do in their reporting. But really this is memoir, not autobiography or a history lesson. The same level of objectivity is not required. You do in the end, want to tell a compelling story. So maybe I could have done with a little less analysis and more real feeling expressed by the author. It is okay to love your father and recognize him as a first class asshole. You won't be judged. Or maybe you will be, but that will happen regardless. And now that I think about it, that is what bothered me. The author seemed so determined to be fair and non-judgmental its as if I the reader was compelled to be outraged for him. No thanks, I have my own absentee parent issues to contend with. That said it was still an interesting story well worth reading.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    In this memoir by the executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide, Mark Whitaker takes a look at his upbringing in a biracial family, his struggles of coping with divorced parents, and his climb to the top in spite of his father’s substance abuse. Whitaker definitely has an interesting story to tell. Both his parents were part of the university elite. With education as a strong value in the Whitaker household, the mixed-raced boys had an advantage over other children of color gr In this memoir by the executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide, Mark Whitaker takes a look at his upbringing in a biracial family, his struggles of coping with divorced parents, and his climb to the top in spite of his father’s substance abuse. Whitaker definitely has an interesting story to tell. Both his parents were part of the university elite. With education as a strong value in the Whitaker household, the mixed-raced boys had an advantage over other children of color growing up in the 1960′s and 1970′s. However, Whitaker should have presented more of the history of the eras he covered, because it would have shown his parent’s achievements as rather extraordinary. Whitaker’s take on it was more of “that’s how I grew up,” rather than showing the true significance. The author struggles to come to terms with his relationship with his father, and appears to be at peace towards to the end. Perhaps he was too close to the subject matter, but it could have been more exciting and moving than Whitaker portrayed it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mariah

    Mark Whitaker, former editor of Newsweek, provides a well-written and researched autobiography. It was very reminiscent of Obama's Dreams of My Father, in it's storyline of white mother raises family on her own while black father is an absent disappointment in general. The first half held my attention better than the second half which at times read like a Who's Who of academics and journalists in the 70's and 80's. He could have included less detail on his and his parent's professions and stuck Mark Whitaker, former editor of Newsweek, provides a well-written and researched autobiography. It was very reminiscent of Obama's Dreams of My Father, in it's storyline of white mother raises family on her own while black father is an absent disappointment in general. The first half held my attention better than the second half which at times read like a Who's Who of academics and journalists in the 70's and 80's. He could have included less detail on his and his parent's professions and stuck to the family/emotional storyline to hold my attention, but I think he was trying to appeal to a broader audience, in which case the extensive details of his parent's experiences at various universities and his own rise as a journalist may have been interesting. A decent memoir, but I'm ready to read a one about a mixed race family that was happy and didn't fall apart due to the father's philandering and drinking. Maybe that story line doesn't make for an interesting memoir....

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melanee

    Knowing absolutely nothing about the author, when I started the book I found myself continuously asking, "Why do I care or need to know about this person?" But because it was the selected read for my bookclub I arduously kept plugging away. I'm so happy that I did! Not only did I end up feeling pretty embarassed that I didn't know about the author prior to reading but I also gained a great respect for how he was able to tell his story, explain his struggles and triumphs and do it very skillfully Knowing absolutely nothing about the author, when I started the book I found myself continuously asking, "Why do I care or need to know about this person?" But because it was the selected read for my bookclub I arduously kept plugging away. I'm so happy that I did! Not only did I end up feeling pretty embarassed that I didn't know about the author prior to reading but I also gained a great respect for how he was able to tell his story, explain his struggles and triumphs and do it very skillfully. I was compelled by how he balanced his views of his parents. Especially when most other children wouldn't or couldn't be so subjective. I was awestruck at the magnificence of his father's work life while completely devestated about his personal one. I was humbled by the faith of his mother while saddened by her never finding love again. So my advice would be to not put it down after the first couple of chapters! You won't regret that you made it to the end =)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sherese

    Subtracted a star due to lack of exploration or explanation of Mr. Whitaker's journey and clarity on his own racial identity. I kept looking back through the chapters trying to figure out where and how Mr. Whitaker (and his brother for that matter) came to balance their absent black father's conflicted self hatred/love for African people (and lesser extent African descendants) and his mother's seemingly lack of importance on the development/raising black boys in America during 1960-70s. I feel t Subtracted a star due to lack of exploration or explanation of Mr. Whitaker's journey and clarity on his own racial identity. I kept looking back through the chapters trying to figure out where and how Mr. Whitaker (and his brother for that matter) came to balance their absent black father's conflicted self hatred/love for African people (and lesser extent African descendants) and his mother's seemingly lack of importance on the development/raising black boys in America during 1960-70s. I feel this personal exploration of racial identity was the one thing missing from a good book - about growing up in a "broken home" with mostly absent, brillant alcoholic emotionally unavailable father and a mother who could not muster the strenght to live on her own terms for many years. In the end it's about letting go of the angry, forgiveness and finding your own way in life regardless of the hand you've been dealt.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I loved this book. Mark Whitaker is the son of a white French mother and a black American father, both of whom are scholars at Swarthmore as the story begins. Whitaker doesn't hold back. He lets both of his parents have it when they deserve it, but is also respectful of their achievements and their stories. He is a great writer (and a trained journalist who used to be the editor of Newsweek and now runs the DC bureau of NBC) and tells a wonderful story. I believe that he and I are close to the s I loved this book. Mark Whitaker is the son of a white French mother and a black American father, both of whom are scholars at Swarthmore as the story begins. Whitaker doesn't hold back. He lets both of his parents have it when they deserve it, but is also respectful of their achievements and their stories. He is a great writer (and a trained journalist who used to be the editor of Newsweek and now runs the DC bureau of NBC) and tells a wonderful story. I believe that he and I are close to the same age, and through this book I learned a lot about what was going on in our country and in the world while I was busy playing Barbies.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Deedee

    I am close to the point of overdosing on well written memoirs about difficult upbrings that were overcome. But despite that, this is a good one and an interesting perspective on Mark Whitaker's life as a mixed race young man in the '60s and early '70s. As the child of brilliant academics, he never lacked for educational opportunities but his troubled relationship with an alcoholic and largely absent father is the most compelling part of the memoir. As you might expect from a former Newsweek edit I am close to the point of overdosing on well written memoirs about difficult upbrings that were overcome. But despite that, this is a good one and an interesting perspective on Mark Whitaker's life as a mixed race young man in the '60s and early '70s. As the child of brilliant academics, he never lacked for educational opportunities but his troubled relationship with an alcoholic and largely absent father is the most compelling part of the memoir. As you might expect from a former Newsweek editor and CNN correspondent, it's well written and thoroughly researched.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...