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Opinions & observations: A friend remembers Pete Hamill of Brooklyn

August 7, 2020 John B. Manbeck, Special to the Brooklyn Eagle
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Pete Hamill Died” — a headline. But not the story.

Pete’s association with newspapers started as when he was a delivery boy for the Brooklyn Eagle. When he started he knew nothing about reporting, according to the New York Times obituary.

But he grew into one of the 20th century’s greatest journalists, writing war stories, columns, features, and books, books, books. “News Is a Verb” is a paean to newspapering. “Tabloid City” is a novel about the press. His other books on art, fiction and personalities show his broad range of interests and talent.

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John B. Manbeck. Photo: Brooklyn Eagle File

This Brooklyn boy graduated from the reporter’s desk to the editorial desk of two of New York’s most important tabloids: the New York Post and Daily News, attempting to infuse them with humanity and serenity.

Pete was a unique individual, a generous, giving star. He mastered the reporter’s art of listening so that he got the whole story. His subject felt that he was the only one in the room. Yet the story Pete wrote contained an objective truth that only he could elicit.

Over the years he helped me by visiting my journalism classes. We also participated in panel discussions at Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Long Island University and student conferences. For his cooperation, I am grateful. In addition, he wrote an introduction for my book, “The Brooklyn Film.”

Whenever he published a new book, I tried to attend the talk that accompanied its publication. His 2012 inscription to me in “Tabloid City” reads “Thanks for all you’ve taught me through your work!”


Thanks, Pete.

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