A personal journey through some of the darkest moments of the cold war and the early days of television news
Marvin Kalb, the award-winning journalist who has written extensively about the world he reported on during his long career, now turns his eye on the young man who became that journalist. Chosen by legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow to become one of what came to be known as the Murrow Boys, Kalb in this newest volume of his memoirs takes readers back to his first days as a journalist, and what also were the first days of broadcast news.
Kalb captures the excitement of being present at the creation of a whole new way of bringing news immediately to the public. And what news. Cold War tensions were high between Eisenhower’s America and Khrushchev’s Soviet Union. Kalb is at the center, occupying a unique spot as a student of Russia tasked with explaining Moscow to Washington and the American public. He joins a cast of legendary figures along the way, from Murrow himself to Eric Severeid, Howard K. Smith, Richard Hottelet, Charles Kuralt, and Daniel Schorr among many others. He finds himself assigned as Moscow correspondent of CBS News just as the U2 incident—the downing of a US spy plane over Russian territory—is unfolding.
As readers of his first volume, The Year I Was Peter the Great, will recall, being the right person, in the right place, at the right time found Kalb face to face with Khrushchev. Assignment Russia sees Kalb once again an eyewitness to history—and a writer and analyst who has helped shape the first draft of that history.
Assignment Russia Book Events
- April 9: Politics & Prose LIVE! Marvin Kalb—Assignment Russia: Becoming a Foreign Corresponding in the Crucible of the Cold War – with Jake Tapper
- April 13: National Press Club Virtual Book Event—Marvin Kalb, Assignment Russia
- April 15: Brookings Event—Assignment Russia: A conversation on journalism and the Cold War
- April 29: Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy Event—Assignment Russia: Becoming a Foreign Correspondent in the Crucible of the Cold War
- May 25: George Washington University—Assignment Russia: Becoming a Foreign Correspondent in the Crucible of the Cold War
Praise for Assignment Russia
“It is impossible to put this engrossing book down—it illuminates so many dark corners of the Cold War. With a master correspondent’s insight, skepticism, sensitivity, and great clarity, Kalb brings vividly to life all the hopes and fears of the most consequential foe this nation has had.”
—Ken Burns, filmmaker
“A fascinating memoir of Marvin Kalb’s Cold War adventures as he sought to penetrate the mysteries of Nikita Khrushchev’s Soviet Russia while building his career as one of broadcast journalism’s legends.”
—Jack Matlock, U.S. ambassador to Russia (1987–1991)
“Marvin Kalb’s engaging Assignment Russia is like Hamilton’s ‘The Room Where It Happens.’ It is a delightful narrative of Kalb’s personal encounters with some of the most famous characters of the 1950s and 1960s, like CBS’s legendary Edward R. Murrow, who hired Kalb, or Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who nicknamed him ‘Peter the Great.’ It is also an engrossing memoir of a foreign correspondent’s adventures in the enemy camp during the Cold War. I loved it, I learned from it, and, I dare say, had fun reading it.”
—Lesley Stahl, co-anchor, CBS’s 60 Minutes
“Marvin Kalb’s great new book Assignment Russia is a rollicking and engaging memoir that takes you to the front lines of the Cold War, to a mic in the early days of broadcast news, and into the mind and career of one of ‘Murrow’s Boys.’ It’s an important book from a legend in journalism, a book you can’t put down.”
—Jake Tapper, CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent
“A nostalgic treat for older readers…a wake-up call for younger ones.”
—Edward Kosner, The Wall Street Journal
“Kalb’s fond, generous memoir, which vividly delineates a bygone era of early journalism, will appeal to students of 20th-century American history as well as aspiring broadcast journalists. The author was involved in many significant Cold War moments, and he brings us directly into that world.
Hopefully Kalb is back at his desk; readers will be eager for the next volume.”
“Readers should be forewarned that once they pick up the book, it will be hard to put it down until they reach the end.”
—Naseer Ahmad, Pakistan Link
Marvin Kalb is a former senior adviser to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a Harvard Professor emeritus, former network news correspondent at NBC and CBS, senior fellow nonresident at the Brookings Institution, and author of 16 other books, the most recent of which is the first volume of his memoirs, The Year I Was Peter the Great (Brookings).
PBS News Hour
NPR's Morning Edition
Brookings Cafeteria Podcast
Q & A, Hosted by Jay Nordlinger
The Current with Matt Galloway
The Charlie Brennan Show With Amy Marxkors
Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb
Inside Track with Bruce Ash
Talk Louisiana with Jim Engster
Maryland Public Television
The Washington Post
Wall Street Journal