Big Russ & Me
Father and Son: Lessons of Life
by Tim Russert
Tim Russert has become a very familiar face to TV news viewers. He is the NBC News Washington Bureau Chief but most of us know him from the Today Show or his weekly stint as host of Meet the Press.
You may not know that he went to college here at John Carroll University and later got his law degree from Cleveland State's Marshall School.
This book is autobiographical but is written as a tribute to Tim's father, also Tim, but known as Big Russ. Russert tells about his father's participation in World War II and his life in South Buffalo. Big Russ worked 2 jobs, including on a garbage truck and delivering papers, to support his family.
We learn a lot about the close-knit Irish Catholic neighborhood that Russert grew up in and the typical stories of someone growing up in such a community in the Fifties and Sixties.
This includes sports (Buffalo's trials will be very familiar to Cleveland sports fans), jobs, schools, dealing with JFK's assassination and the changing world. Big Russ and friends from the American Legion Post provided grounding when Russert ventured to Washington DC.
Besides Big Russ, we hear about others who have influenced Russert's lives - the sisters in grade school, the demanding Jesuits in high school, all the way up to his mentor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Senator from New York.
After law school, Russert worked for Moynihan and then Mario Cuomo before getting in with NBC News. Throughout his life, he would get advice or remember a lesson from Big Russ.
It is interesting that Russert's mother is mentioned very infrequently in the book. Big Russ and she separated after the kids were grown.
This is a very easy and enjoyable book to read. Many of the scenarios will seem very familiar. Working-class Buffalo and Cleveland are closer in more ways than the 4 hour travel time.
Reviewed by Dan Hanson
Top of Page
Back to Books for Cleveland Seniors