Reactions to Write Hard, Die Free
Here are some reactions to the book I hope you’ll enjoy. I’d love to hear from you when you’ve read it.
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“ The last great newspaper book...
…Howard Weaver is a wonderful storyteller with amazing tales to tell of fighting for the heart and soul of Alaska and of journalism. Though he may be the last of a dying breed, this is no obituary. Write Hard, Die Free is a testament to the true value of news and caring about where we live.
“Riveting tales from the wild frontier
of American journalism…
There was a time when the newspaper business was actually fun. And nowhere was it more fun than in Alaska, as Howard Weaver reminds us in this in this riveting book of tales from the wild frontier of American journalism.
—Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, best-selling author
“…hope and inspiration
to the next generation seeking great journalism”
The Alaska newspaper war provides plenty of lessons for journalists fighting to survive in the new fragmented, digital media world: 1. Competition makes us better. 2. Leadership matters. 3. People want to do good work and will if they have the right tools (and bosses). 4. News is a talent-driven business. 5. What we do is glorious, fun and constructive - even if we feel under-appreciated, tossed by the economic tides, and frustrated by the restraints of the market.
The biggest lesson is that journalists have to understand the business of what we do - not just the art of storytelling. If we don't figure it out, some non-journalist is going to do it to us.
Thanks, Howard Weaver, for telling a tale from the frozen frontier that should give hope and inspiration to the next generation seeking to make the digital frontier home for great journalism.
—Peter Copeland, foreign correspondent and Washington bureau chief
“An entertaining story of scoops, legwork,
drinking, and camaraderie…
Howard Weaver has written a two-fisted memoir of how the Anchorage Daily News -- a newspaper he edited -- went on to win two Pulitzer prizes and defeat the established major daily, which was an oil industry mouthpiece. It's an entertaining story of scoops, legwork, drinking, and camaraderie. Write Hard, Die Free (I love the title) is a good read, and a reminder of a time not as distant as it already seems—and of the important role newspapers have played traditionally in democracy. It inevitably sharpens the question: What would we—or will we—do without them?
Of all the rip-roaring Alaska tales you've heard lately, this is the one you will remember, and should. Write Hard, Die Free is more than the story of two newspapers duking it out. It is the view from behind the barricades of the battle for what can only be described as the soul of America's last frontier. Everybody should know how this all went down and Howard Weaver takes us through it like a guy who's been writing all his life.
Throw away your Joe McGinniss, Tom Bodett, and especially your Sarah Palin. This is the only book about Alaska you need to read for a long time.
“ Like a love story with Alaska…
…Write Hard, Die Free reads like an X-ray of someone with an oversized heart. It’s about the battle between good and evil, of course, but the most stunning portrait is really about the author—his immense capacity to care, to fight for things worth fighting for. 'Write Hard' reads from beginning to end like a love story with the author, the paper, the craft of journalism and the people of Alaska as its characters.
This story is expansive, reminding us how Alaska can suddenly let you feel like you've got over-the-horizon radar. You sense the biggest picture of a place of impossible beauty and scale—all the unnamed rivers, rolling in the night; the bad and the good, all grinding together.
In those moments, we know there has always been only one, important story to tell, and this book embraces that big, Alaskan mystery, shared by someone so uniquely gifted he had no real choice but to see the biggest story, witness its pain, and lead others towards the light.
“Energy, optimism and
a passion for democracy…
In Write Hard, Die Free, Weaver recounts, with uncommon honesty, how he got to live three of the most cherished narratives of American life: the poor boy makes it to the top; the fighter for the little guy and the public good bests entrenched and greedy interests; the potentially lost soul who finds his way back from booze to sobriety.
If we are lucky, most of us get to live only a piece of one those stories. But Weaver brings more than luck to the game. As the book makes plain, he brought energy, optimism, a passion for both democracy and story-telling, and a willingness to take risks and trust others.
Journalists can profitably read Write Hard, Die Free’s account of the triumph of the Anchorage Daily News over the late and unlamented Anchorage Times as a primer about the sources of great journalism and the tools for earning readers’ trust. But everyone can read it as a way to live a good and meaningful life, one that enriches all those who have the privilege to share a piece of it.
“A gritty fighter for truth (with) the Pulitzers to prove it
Howard Weaver is the prototypical newspaperman: a gritty fighter who battles for the truth. That's the theme of this fast-paced biography on the great Alaska newspaper wars of the 1970s, '80s and '90s.
Weaver was on the front lines as a reporter and editor. He has the Pulitzers to prove it.
Anyone interested in newspapers, Alaska or a great story about American ingenuity will enjoy reading "Write Hard, Die Free."
Andy Perdue, longtime Pacific Northwest journalist now editor and co-founder of Wine Press Northwest
“Much to learn here—and it’s a great read.”
This is essential reading for anyone interested in journalism in the last decades of the 20th Century. Weaver lived it and led his newspaper to a famous victory in a very tough newspaper war -- and the Anchorage Daily News won by being the better, more honest, more creative and innovative newspaper. Even though the circumstances facing journalists are much different now, there's much to learn here. And it's a great read.
—Jim Bettinger, journalist and director, Knight Fellowships for Journalists at Stanford
“ I’m profoundly impressed…
…the author tells an important story much larger than his own, yet through honesty and wisdom offers himself as a character whose viewpoint helps us understand those larger storylines…Of course the writing is superb...I found it fascinating, inspiring and moving in more than a few places.
—Melanie Sill, executive editor of KPCC, The Sacramento Bee and Raleigh News & Observer
Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman: “This is a fun, fascinating read. Buy it!”
San Francisco Chronicle Managing Editor Steve Proctor: “I recommend this highly, especially for any journalist. It is a terrific read and offers valuable insights into how to motivate a staff and accomplish goals.”
Joe Acton, Zaydoe Films: Perhaps no single voice was better prepared to spotlight the corruption of Alaska under an unprecedented avalanche of "oil money" than Howard Weaver, a reporter who was on the ground before the madness of the Alaska Pipeline and who assiduously thereafter waved flags of warning.
Randal Bass, Vashon Island, WA: If you can read this book and not deeply feel the importance and impact of journalism in a Democracy, as exemplified by the Anchorage Daily News, it would be time to check your pulse.
Barbara Hodgin, Sacramento: The story told here is a chronicle of Howard Weaver's life in newspapers but it's the story of many of us who wanted to make something luminous and righteous in the far north. Howard's parents felt the call in the 1940's in west Texas, and people still feel it, but Sarah Palin and her selfish minions have inherited our place and now preach the gospel of self-interest. Thanks for telling the story of the better Alaska, Howard.
Nico Forte, Sacramento: An engaging David vs Goliath story as told by the former editor of the newspaper that took on its established rival in Alaska. Mr. Weaver's account reads like a start-up company expose and shows how a group of people, armed with an altruistic goal of wanting the truth to be told, did battle with an entrenched and better funded rival.
Donna Cherrier, Anchorage: I have lived in Anchorage for 50 years and I loved your book!!!!!
My new husband and I drove up over the highway in our baby blue convertible from Los Angeles in 1961. Everything we owned fit in the trunk of the car…I followed the newspaper wars daily as I took both of the papers for years. I couldn’t wait for the Daily News to arrive as it was so juicy for me!!I When I traveled I bragged about the paper and told everyone it was equal to the New York Times…Thanks for reliving all those old memories. I’ll share your book with many friends here in Alaska.