The Prince of Darkness: Book summary and reviews of The Prince of Darkness by Robert D. Novak

The Prince of Darkness

50 Years Reporting in Washington

by Robert D. Novak

The Prince of Darkness by Robert D. Novak

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Book Summary

Novak has been a Washington insider since the days when the place was a sleepy southern town and journalism was built on shoe leather and the ability to cultivate and keep sources (not to mention the ability to hold one’s liquor). He has covered every president since Truman, known (personally and professionally) virtually all the big movers and shakers in D.C., and broken a number of the biggest stories—the Plame story, we see here, being far from the most important. In this book, he puts it all into perspective. He also reveals the extraordinary transformations that have fundamentally remade Washington, politics, and journalism—and his own role in those transformations.

Moving beyond the “first draft of history” that is daily journalism, Novak can at last tell the stories behind the stories. He vividly recalls encounters with the Kennedys (angry meetings with Bobby, a scary ride home in Jack’s convertible), his unusual relationship with Lyndon Johnson (who hosted Novak’s wedding reception and who, “drunk as a loon,” had to be carried out of a bar by the young newsman),a decidedly odd off-the-record lunch with Ronald Reagan, and his first meetings with George W. Bush—at which the veteran journalist seriously underestimated the future president. We meet other fascinating characters as well, from Deng Xiaoping to Ted Turner to Ezra Pound.

Writing with bracing candor, Novak tells us how politics and journalism truly operate at the highest levels, both publicly and behind closed doors. He is equally open about his private experience. He writes frankly about the days when his drinking reflected too closely the boozy ways of the town. He acknowledges times when his job took precedence over his family. He is reflective about his political journey to the right. And he writes more personally than ever before about his spiritual journey, from his early life as a secular Jew to his conversion to Catholicism at the age of sixty-seven.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Novak's insider perspective, vitriolic pen and damn-the-torpedoes frankness make it a lively and eye-opening account of big-foot journalism." - PW.

"Having traveled through the chronology of news events of the past 50 years, Novak returns to the Plame Affair, detailing the fallout of his column "outing" Plame as a CIA agent and expresses no regrets." - Booklist.

"Novak's memoir offers a rich self-assessment of his work. Sure to be popular reading inside the Beltway, and worthy of an audience far beyond it as well." - Kirkus.

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