Almost a Family by John Darnton

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From the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and best-selling author: a beautifully crafted memoir of his lifelong chase after his father’s shadow.

John was eleven months old when his father, Barney Darnton—a war correspondent for The New York Times—was killed in World War II, but his absence left a more profound imprint on the family than any living father could have. John’s mother, a well-known Times reporter and editor, tried to keep alive the dream of raising her two sons in ideal surroundings. When that proved impossible, she collapsed emotionally and physically. But along the way she created such a powerful myth of the father-hero who gave his life for his family, country, and the fourth estate that John followed his footsteps into the same newsroom.

Decades after his father’s death, John and his brother, the historian Robert Darnton, began digging into the past to uncover the truth about their parents. To discover who the real-life Barney Darnton was—and in part who he himself is—John delves into turn-of-the-century farm life in Michigan, the anything-goes Jazz Age in Greenwich Village, the lives of hard-drinking war correspondents in the Pacific theater, and the fearful loneliness of the McCarthy years in Washington, D.C. He ends his quest on a beach in Papua New Guinea, where he learns about his father’s last moments from an aged villager who never forgot what he saw sixty-five years earlier.

From the Hardcover edition.

About John Darnton

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John Darnton has worked for The New York Times for forty years as a reporter, editor, and foreign correspondent. He is the recipient of two George Polk Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. He is also the author of five novels, including The Darwin Conspiracy and the best seller, Neanderthal. He lives in New York City.
Published March 15, 2011 by Anchor. 385 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Almost a Family

Kirkus Reviews

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A George Polk Award– and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist skillfully investigates the history of his family, recovering the life of the father he never knew.

Mar 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Almost a Family

The New York Times

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John Darnton, a former New York Times reporter and editor, examines the myths he grew up with about his father, who died while reporting during World War II.

Mar 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Almost a Family

The New York Times

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A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist investigates the story of his own family and searches for the father he never knew.

Mar 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Almost a Family

Washington Independent Review of Books

They led me, eventually, to romanticize his life and to mythologize him.” The myth of Barney Darnton comes under scrutiny in his son’s book, and like all myth, it is a mixture of fact and imagination, reality and wishful thinking.

May 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Almost a Family

The New Yorker

Online version of the weekly magazine, with current articles, cartoons, blogs, audio, video, slide shows, an archive of articles and abstracts back to 1925

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Almost a Family

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