Monday, February 4, 2013

Book review: The Last Newspaperman by Mark Di Ionno

Let me start off by saying that this is a novel and not a non-fiction history of famous New Jersey newspaper stories of the 20th century such as the Hindenburg disaster and the Lindbergh kidnapping. It is written by a real journalist and for a first fiction book by a newspaper journalist this book has surprising depth and shows the journalist to be a wonderful storyteller. I know that the term storyteller is more and more commonly seen in reviews and so I want to clarify why I use this term to describe the book by Mr. Di Ionno. I do not use the term storyteller frequently, but reserve it for books that are entertaining and grasp my attention through the way that the words flow. I am not caught up in trying to find out how the specific story ends, but in the tale told by a great storyteller, that I simply cannot put the book down because the story is so beautifully written that I want to continue reading and enjoying it. 

The book has two protagonists, an unknown narrator that acts as the interviewer of and listener to Fred Haines, who as a reporter covered the major stories occurring in New Jersey in the early 20th century. A major part of the discussion between both men deals with the ethics of reporting and how to cover a story responsibly. How important is the story and can or should a story take second place to ethical consideration? The narrator is a young reporter that tries to come up with a story to make an impact. He decides to visit Haines at his retirement home and finds out that Haines in his younger days was at the center of most big news events occurring in New Jersey. Through their conversation, both characters learn from the other, and through the wonderful writing of Mr. Di Ionno the reader learns about New Jersey in the early 20th century, and in historically accurate descriptions about the major events that took place then in the state.
I believe that Mr. Di Ionno’s experience as a journalist comes through in the excellent research that went into the book. There is so much detail about each historical event that the passages read like a nonfiction book. I really enjoyed that because it provides me with a view into a long gone time and I feel as if I am getting a better understanding of time and people. This is an insightful book about a historically important era in US journalism with major stories breaking. The reader will feel as if they are getting a firsthand view to the stories by following the unknown narrator in his encounters with Fred Haines. 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book through Once Upon A Romance in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by any third parties. 

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