Catalogue


Off camera : private thoughts made public /
Ted Koppel.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : Alfred Knopf, 2000.
description
ix, 320 p. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0375410775 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Alfred Knopf, 2000.
isbn
0375410775 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
4029894
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
From "January" January 1 / Captiva, Florida Hope and foreboding. Not necessarily in equal measure, either. What every new year has that recommends it over the old one is the promise of uncertainty. We know what happened last year. There is always the possibility that we will learn from our mistakes, tighten our abdominals, stop smoking, exercise greater patience and dedicate our lives to the selfless pursuit of Man's greater good. There is also the off chance that pigs will fly. What makes the prospect of 1999 particularly gloomy is that the year begins perched on the detritus of 1998. What punishment, short of removal from office, will the U.S. Senate cobble together for William Jefferson Clinton? Surely someone will find an eighteenth-century solution in the delphic mutterings of the Federalist Papers. Actually, the twentieth century has already formulated its own equivalent to the pillory and stocks: Letterman, Leno, Imus and the various front pages of a hundred newspapers and magazines, together with the daily flaying on radio talk shows and television news programs, have already delivered their populist punishment, without having undermined "the will of the people" or, at least, the will of those millions of civic souls who dragged themselves to the polls to vote for Clinton in 1996. Whichever way it goes, it will leave a nasty aftertaste. The president and First Lady will speak piously of national reconciliation, while their loyalists ram the rockets' red glare up the tailpipes of the right-wing fanatics, who have confused low morals with high crimes. The right-wing fanatics, meanwhile, will speak piously of having made television newscasts safe for viewing by their children again (as though anyone without dentures even watches the news anymore), and then they will encourage Lucianne Goldberg to collaborate with Howard Stern in the drafting of "A Moral Compass for the New Millennium." It can safely be predicted, meanwhile, that we are all destined to become wholeheartedly sick and tired of the new millenium before it even gets under way. The term "wretched excess" was coined for the American experience during a year such as this. Has the product been designed that will not presume some benefit of association with the new millenium? Is there a family so removed from the sense of the moment that it has not yet felt the first uneasy stirrings of being insufficiently prepared for next New Year's Eve, even as it shakes off the aftermath of last night? It may yet prove to be a perfectly glorious year, in which decency, civility and good taste prevail. Or pork chops may sprout wings. January 2 / Captiva One more note on the millenium: The New York Times editorial board must be acutely conscious of its responsibilities to point us all in the right direction. Sometimes, though, mere opining or editorializing is not enough; a declaration is required. Yesterday the Times declared that it was all right to take the new millenium seriously. It wasn't altogether clear whether that makes it simply permissible, or if it's now obligatory. The newspaper's finest minds will probably express themselves on the subject again. So far this year the weather here in Captiva has been nothing short of spectacular. That's worthy of brief note, if only because most of the rest of the country is in a miserable deep freeze. Somehow that makes our weather feel even more delicious. Symbolically, that comes close to summarizing America's attitude toward the rest of the world: The weather's just fine here and don't bother us with your whining about crumbling Asian economies, corroding Russian infrastructure, pandemic disease in Africa and the growing likelihood that someone in Isfahan is packing an overnight bag with the wherewithal to pop Cleveland with a biological weapon. I have the uneasy feeling that a few dec
First Chapter
From "January" January 1 / Captiva, Florida Hope and foreboding. Not necessarily in equal measure, either. What every new year has that recommends it over the old one is the promise of uncertainty. We know what happened last year. There is always the possibility that we will learn from our mistakes, tighten our abdominals, stop smoking, exercise greater patience and dedicate our lives to the selfless pursuit of Man's greater good. There is also the off chance that pigs will fly. What makes the prospect of 1999 particularly gloomy is that the year begins perched on the detritus of 1998. What punishment, short of removal from office, will the U.S. Senate cobble together for William Jefferson Clinton? Surely someone will find an eighteenth-century solution in the delphic mutterings of the Federalist Papers. Actually, the twentieth century has already formulated its own equivalent to the pillory and stocks: Letterman, Leno, Imus and the various front pages of a hundred newspapers and magazines, together with the daily flaying on radio talk shows and television news programs, have already delivered their populist punishment, without having undermined "the will of the people" or, at least, the will of those millions of civic souls who dragged themselves to the polls to vote for Clinton in 1996. Whichever way it goes, it will leave a nasty aftertaste. The president and First Lady will speak piously of national reconciliation, while their loyalists ram the rockets' red glare up the tailpipes of the right-wing fanatics, who have confused low morals with high crimes. The right-wing fanatics, meanwhile, will speak piously of having made television newscasts safe for viewing by their children again (as though anyone without dentures even watches the news anymore), and then they will encourage Lucianne Goldberg to collaborate with Howard Stern in the drafting of "A Moral Compass for the New Millennium." It can safely be predicted, meanwhile, that we are all destined to become wholeheartedly sick and tired of the new millenium before it even gets under way. The term "wretched excess" was coined for the American experience during a year such as this. Has the product been designed that will not presume some benefit of association with the new millenium? Is there a family so removed from the sense of the moment that it has not yet felt the first uneasy stirrings of being insufficiently prepared for next New Year's Eve, even as it shakes off the aftermath of last night? It may yet prove to be a perfectly glorious year, in which decency, civility and good taste prevail. Or pork chops may sprout wings. January 2 / Captiva One more note on the millenium: The New York Times editorial board must be acutely conscious of its responsibilities to point us all in the right direction. Sometimes, though, mere opining or editorializing is not enough; a declaration is required. Yesterday the Times declared that it was all right to take the new millenium seriously. It wasn't altogether clear whether that makes it simply permissible, or if it's now obligatory. The newspaper's finest minds will probably express themselves on the subject again. So far this year the weather here in Captiva has been nothing short of spectacular. That's worthy of brief note, if only because most of the rest of the country is in a miserable deep freeze. Somehow that makes our weather feel even more delicious. Symbolically, that comes close to summarizing America's attitude toward the rest of the world: The weather's just fine here and don't bother us with your whining about crumbling Asian economies, corroding Russian infrastructure, pandemic disease in Africa and the growing likelihood that someone in Isfahan is packing an overnight bag with the wherewithal to pop Cleveland with a biological weapon. I have the uneasy feeling that a few dec
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-02-15:
Koppel, television journalist and the host of ABC's Nightline since 1980, narrates his compelling look at the final year of the millennium in this engaging new book. In diary format, he expounds on such subjects as the Clinton impeachment, the Y2K scare, the war in Kosovo, the Columbine tragedy, Monica Lewinsky, and John F. Kennedy Jr. More than just a day-by-day recounting of the year, Off Camera sheds insight into the author and his early days as well. We hear about his time in England, where he attended a school for boys until the age of 13, and learn about his Jewish heritage and how he dealt with the stigma of having his family move from Germany during World War II. Many other interesting tidbits can be gleaned as well. Recommended. Marty D. Evensvold, Arkansas City P.L., KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2000-12-04:
This is the spoken version of the daily journalDcentered around major news events (Clinton's impeachment trial, the war in Kosovo) and his personal reflections on themDthat newscaster Koppel began on January 1, 1999. Woven between the news and his opinions are personal tidbits such as reminiscences of his childhood in Germany and England, his fear of growing old, his love for his wife, his bouts with depression, his constant travels and the double-edged sword of celebrity. Listeners will readily recognize Koppel's Nightline-style delivery, although they may be surprised to find that the way Koppel reads from his memoir is no different than the way he reads from a TelePrompTer. The consummate journalist, he remains objective in delivering everything from the death of a friend and colleague to his plans for building a house. Koppel is an observer, a watcher, and although he does harbor opinionsDmany of which are clearly stated hereDthey run second to his hard-nosed reporting, even when he himself is the story. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Forecasts, Sept. 11). (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"[Y]ou will get to know... Ted Koppel... irreverent, ironical, informative, intimate, sometimes irritable, but always enormously interesting." --Barbara Walters "[Koppel] writes with aplomb. His style puts readers at ease, just as his on-air style seems to put guests and audience at ease." --The Christian Science Monitor "[I]n this magnificently written volume, [Koppel] speaks about himself with his usual elegance and rigor." --Elie Wiesel From the Trade Paperback edition.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, September 2000
Booklist, October 2000
Library Journal, October 2000
New York Times Book Review, October 2000
Los Angeles Times, December 2000
Washington Post, December 2000
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
One of America's most admired television newsmen now gives us an intimate chronicle of the final year of the twentieth century. In his engrossing narrative, the year's personalities and events not only are themselves made vivid but also lead to wide-ranging discussions of the past and of expectations of things to come. Here, closely observed from an insider's viewpoint, are the significant matters of 1999--from the Clinton impeachment and the war in Kosovo to the mass-marketing of Viagra. Here are the people (both on and off camera) who made the news--from Slobodan MiloseviĀ“c to Hillary Rodham Clinton to Michael Jordan to John F. Kennedy Jr. to King Hussein. And Koppel's book moves on yet another level as events trigger memories of his own past, providing a more personal resonance to his telling of the history we all share. He takes us back to the England in which he lived until he was thirteen. He revisits his powerful experiences as an interviewer investigating prison abuses and probing the violence in our schools. He discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the media; he talks about racial intolerance, about brutality toward homosexuals, about the absence of political leadership. He also examines such cultural phenomena as our obsession with celebrity and the impact of great theater and overhyped movies. Here is the voice we know fromNightline--intelligent, curious, opinionated, witty, concerned--reminding us in entertaining and thought-provoking ways that even the most public events reverberate in our private lives.

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