by Lisa Napoli
First sentence: “On August 18, 2019, Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs Roberts, age seventy-five, did what she’d done for thousands of Sundays.”
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Content: There is some swearing, including a couple of f-bombs. It’s in the biography section of the bookstore.
Nominally, this is a history of how NPR became what it is today. Napoli focuses on the four women who were hired near the beginning of NPR’s tenure. Although she briefly illustrates the four women’s pasts and how they landed at NPR, the majority of the book is about the influence they had on shaping the way NPR became the influential reporting pwoerhosue that it is today.
I picked this up because I really liked Dinners with Ruth, and I was curious to know more about how NPR became NPR. It’s billed as the story of the women, but it’s really the story of NPR as a whole. There were ups and downs that I didn’t know about as NPR struggled to become relevant in the 1970s and 1980s, including a bankruptcy scare. and although the four women played a big role in it, they were not the only ones.
It was a good book, even if it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I liked learning the history of NPR, and learning what it took to get a national radio station off the ground. I was impressed, again, by the challenges women faced in the workplace in the 1970s, and the gumption that these four women had to become successful at a time when the odds were stacked against them. It’s not going to be my favorite book ever, but it was interesting and I enjoyed it.