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Open Book: Staying Down To Earth While Circling The Globe

Correctly guess this week's book, and you might win an InformationWeek prize.
From St. Joseph, Mo., to around the world, this newsman's memoir became a New York Times No. 1 bestseller when it was published a few years back. He covered a bevy of last century's most historic events, and his reporting on JFK's assassination has its own small place in history. The whole time, while writing about his family or his career, he remains humble and unpretentious.

An excerpt on his wife's frugality (who, by the way, was 45 minutes late for their wedding): "The foreshortened message was typical of [her] thrifty use of telegrams. Our four-year courtship somehow survived her habit of sending off telegrams ending with the minimum ten words whether she had conveyed the essential information or not. She avoided the per word surcharge for excess words with such truncated messages as: 'Arriving 3:30 Monday Missouri Pacific Train 115 STOP Hope that.' Or: 'Sorry I haven't written last two weeks but had to.'"

On fame that television brings: "On the upside, of course, is the certainty of getting a good table in a crowded restaurant. Although there is a downside to the restaurant's version of a 'good table.' Successful restaurant owners have to be pretty smart operators. They know which tables you couldn't get the dumbest rube to sit at, and they establish that these are the preferred locations, where only their most favored customers are placed. These tables are frequently right inside the front door, swept by the cold winds with each new arrival or departure. Putting the celebrities there not only gets rid of those terrible tables but puts the 'stars' on display for the other customers. ... A downside to celebrity is the autograph seeker who, getting your signature, turns to a companion and asks: 'Who is he?'"

On journalism: "I visualize the TV industry as a huge building dedicated to the business of entertainment. Journalism is in an attached annex next door. In that door between them is a huge vacuum that runs twenty-four hours a day threatening to suck into the larger building anyone who comes too close."

For a chance at winning an InformationWeek goody, E-mail [email protected] by noon ET Thursday with the title, author, and answer to this question: Of all humankind's achievements in the 20th century, what one event does the author opine will dominate the history books a half a millennium from now? Two respondents will be chosen randomly from correct answers.

Jan. 14 quiz: Guinness World Records 2000 (or any edition, really). Managing director Sir Hugh Beaver dreamed up the idea for the publication. Third question: We accepted either toucan or harp as Guinness' most recognizable symbol. By the way, the record-breaking track star who recommended the eventual researchers and writers for the book was Chris Chataway, who at the time was a brewer in training at Guinness' Park Royal Brewery in London. Winners: Ann Hammack and Vince Liesenfeld.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Greg Douglass, Global Lead for Technology Strategy & Advisory, Accenture
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter