Big Russ and Me, Father and Son: Lessons of Life

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9781401352080: Big Russ and Me, Father and Son: Lessons of Life
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"The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t remember something that Big Russ taught me."

Over the last two decades, Tim Russert has become one of the most trusted and admired figures in American television journalism. Throughout his career he has spent time with presidents and popes, world leaders and newsmakers, celebrities and sports heroes, but one person stands out from the rest in terms of his strength of character, modest grace, and simple decency—Russert’s dad, Big Russ.

In this warm, engaging memoir, Russert casts a fond look back to the 1950s Buffalo neighborhood of his youth. In the close-knit Irish-Catholic community where he grew up, doors were left unlocked at night; backyard ponds became makeshift ice hockey rinks in winter; and streets were commandeered as touch football fields in the fall. And he recalls the extraordinary example of his father, a WWII veteran who worked two jobs without complaint for thirty years and taught his children to appreciate the values of self-discipline, of respect, of loyalty to friends.

Big Russ and Me, written in Russert’s easygoing, straight-talking style, offers an irresistible collection of personal memories. Russert recalls the dedicated teachers who stimulated his imagination and intellect, sparking a lifelong passion for politics and journalism, and inspired a career that took him from editor of his elementary school newspaper to moderator of Meet the Press.

It has been an eventful and deeply satisfying journey, but no matter where his career has taken him, Russert’s fundamental values still spring from that small house on Woodside Avenue and the special bond he shares with his father—a bond he enjoys now with his own son. As Tim Russert celebrates the indelible connection between fathers and sons, readers everywhere will laugh, cry, and identify with the lessons of life taught by the indomitable Big Russ.

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Review:

Veteran newsman and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert is known for his direct and unpretentious style and in this charming memoir he explains why. Russert's father is profiled as a plainspoken World War II veteran who worked two blue-collar jobs while raising four kids in South Buffalo but the elder Russert's lessons on how to live an honest, disciplined, and ethical life are shown to be universal. Big Russ and Me, a sort of Greatest Generation meets Tuesdays with Morrie, could easily have become a sentimental pile of mush with a son wistfully recalling the wisdom of his beloved dad. But both Russerts are far too down-to-earth to let that happen and the emotional content of the book is made more direct, accessible, and palatable because of it. The relationship between father and son, contrary to what one would think of as essential to a riveting memoir, seems completely healthy and positive as Tim, the academically gifted kid and later the esteemed TV star and political operative relies on his old man, a career sanitation worker and newspaper truck driver, for advice. Big Russ and Me also traces Russert's life from working-class kid to one of broadcast journalism's top interviewers by introducing various influential figures who guided him along the way, including Jesuit teachers, nuns, his dad's drinking buddies, and, most notably, the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, whom Russert helped get elected in 1976. Plenty of entertaining anecdotes are served up along the way from schoolyard pranks to an attempt to book Pope John Paul II on the Today Show. Though not likely to revolutionize modern thought, Big Russ and Me will provide fathers and sons a chance to reflect on lessons learned between generations. --Charlie Williams

From the Inside Flap:

Tim Russert is perhaps the most admired man in television news. As NBC's senior vice president and Washington bureau chief, he has helped shape the way today's news is reported and analyzed. As producer and moderator of Meet the Press, he has created and sustained the longest running TV news program of all time with panache and dedication. And as the anchor of The Tim Russert Show, he has garnered a huge and growing fan base with his quick wit and straight-talking candor. And every Tim Russert fan knows that Tim's #1 hero, hands down, is his dad--Big Russ.

BIG RUSS & ME offers a charming, down-to-earth look at Russert's roots, growing up a hometown guy in working-class Buffalo in the 1950s. From the indelible bond that links him to his father, to the lessons learned from his old-fashioned Catholic upbringing, from his passion for the Buffalo Bills, to the importance of patriotism in everyday life, Russert's reflections hit the very epicenter of American values.

Rich with personal anecdotes and Russert's easygoing style and straight-talking charm, BIG RUSS & ME will be embraced by his myriad fans--and will delight dads across the country on Father's Day and for years to come.

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