A Merry Meeting of the Press
Geracimos, Ann, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Count on a gathering of high-powered media folk to be a feast of quips and opinions. For example:
* The best line of the presidential campaign to date was from Pat Buchanan, who - in an upbeat, post-New Hampshire mood - called Sen. Bob Dole "Mr. January."
* In the world of Washington journalism, the actors change but never their roles.
* The author of "Primary Colors" may not be known but writing it represents political disloyalty of the highest order.
Talk was both wide and deep as some three dozen friends and colleagues gathered Wednesday for a book party at the Columbia Road apartment of Frank Mankiewicz (author, presidential press secretary, radio and public relations executive) and wife Patricia O'Brien (author and presidential campaign press secretary) that honored Congressional Quarterly's Robert Merry, newly minted author of "Taking On the World: Joseph and Stewart Alsop - Guardians of the American Century."
The book is a family saga centering around the famous Alsop brothers, journalists of different stripes whom Mr. Merry never had met but in whose lives he saw "a window on America from 1935 to 1975."
His sole contact with them was a single telephone conversation long ago with Stewart Alsop, whose role as foreign correspondent - "dispassionate ... analytical" - became "the model I tried to use as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal."
"You never quite know when you capture a guy like Joe Alsop," said Mr. Merry, playing humble in his remarks to the crowd. Then amid knowing laughter, he read from some of the entries in the index: "Appearance ... eight or nine entries under dress alone ... weight, 15 entries ... arrogance, 18 entries ... athletic ability, no entries."
The ever-elegant Susan Mary Alsop, former wife of the late Joe Alsop, effusively complimented Mr. Merry, saying with the highest possible praise that, overall, "Joe would be pleased."
Since some of the material in the book is extremely personal, Mr. Merry took extra precautions in his approach. Besides private papers of the brothers deposited with the Library of Congress, he relied on extensive interviews with 100 sources -while keeping his full-time job throughout the writing and research. …