Sander's Study

A Son's Story

Non-Fiction - Biography
212 Pages
Reviewed on 03/16/2022
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Author Biography

Chris Vanocur has won the two most prestigious awards in TV news broadcasting: the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and the George Foster Peabody Award. He received these after uncovering the worldwide scandal surrounding Salt Lake’s 2002 Olympic Games. He has also written several award-winning articles about politics, as well as chronicling his travels around America and overseas. He can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok either under his name or @NewsVulcan.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Philip Van Heusen for Readers' Favorite

A very successful and very well-known reporter, his successful and somewhat-known reporter son, their relationship to each other and the world sums up Sander’s Study: A Son’s Story by Chris Vanocur. For those unfamiliar with Sander Vanocur, he was one of the best-known reporters of the middle of the twentieth century. He interviewed all the greats: both Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many more. If you don’t remember Sander, think JFK’s and Nixon’s presidential debates and NBC White House correspondent. There are many unique and exciting stories told in this book. One of the surprising statements from Sander Vanocur refers to the racial tension in the South in the 1960s. He stated he felt safer as a reporter in Vietnam than in the Deep South. As a Southerner who grew up in the Deep South in the 1960s, I can understand Sander’s statement but am ashamed that it is probably true.

To honor his father, Chris Vanocur did what journalists do—he wrote. He wrote a fascinating book—Sander’s Study: A Son’s Story—about his father based on Chris’s information from his dad’s old study. Sander stood shoulder to shoulder with all the great reporters of the 1960s and the rest of the twentieth century. His legacy will last for a long, long time. Although growing up in his dad’s shadow, Chris became a well-known journalist in his own right. While Sander reported on Viet Nam and hob-nobbed with the Kennedy family, Chris broke the scandal associated with the 2002 Winter Olympics. By reading the stories of these two journalists, the reader will be entertained and intrigued by the most important events of the middle and last part of the twentieth century. Besides just the public side of the reporting, Chris includes the private life of one of the most excellent reporters in history.

Bernadette Longu

Sander’s Study: A Son’s Story by Chris Vanocur is written with grace, patience, respect, and love for a loving father. Chris Vanocur pays tribute to his father who died in 2019. The author spent time with his father when he helped him empty his study. This book catches your interest with the title and then you want to know what he has to say. Most books that have been written about famous parents have mostly been about pulling them to pieces and venting anger, but Chris Vanocur has written a tribute to a great reporter. Chris has portrayed his father as an ordinary human being with flaws like the rest of us and not perfect like we expect parents to be. He has given the reader a glimpse into his father's life as a reporter and a father. A glimpse that ordinary people would not normally see.

Sander’s Study: A Son’s Story by Chris Vanocur has given me pause for thought throughout my reading of this beautifully written tribute to a father and a well-known reporter of his time. Chris gives the reader a look into the life and times of his father that one would never normally have. It made me realize that my own father was just a man and not perfect and the mistakes he make were not mine to take on; they were his and they went with him when he died and I should let go. Thank you, Chris Vanocur, for a wonderful book that should be read by all who lived through the Kennedy era and Vietnam War. This was a most interesting book! It is wonderfully written and well worth reading not once but at least twice. The photos in the middle are a delight.

Leonard William Smuts

The adage of “like father, like son” is particularly appropriate in the case of Sander Vanocur and his son Chris, who has written Sander’s Study as a family biography. It also serves as a fitting tribute to his illustrious father. Sander Vanocur was an award-winning journalist who covered the heady years of the 1960s and beyond. It was the era of John F Kennedy, the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King Jr., and Richard Nixon. Sander reported on these important figures in American history in his forthright style as the political events unfolded. Sander met all of these prominent people in person, becoming particularly close to JFK, his brother Robert, and indeed the broader Kennedy clan. Chris Vanocur followed in his father’s footsteps, also achieving acclaim as a journalist. Their careers followed amazingly parallel roads, from the highs of breaking important stories and the recognition that followed to periods of unemployment and near despair. There is intense competition and pressure to find newsworthy stories. The lot of the journalist is one of sustained hard work and the ultimate price can be burnout and depression. Chris finally has to deal with the loss of his brother, followed by his father in 2019 at age ninety-one, after a remarkably full life.

Chris Vanocur was prompted to write Sander's Study after being asked by his stepmother to tidy his ailing father’s office. This unearthed a treasure trove of memorabilia which allowed him to reconstruct both of his parents' lives, as well as put his own life into sharper perspective. He writes frankly about his father's successes, failures, and marital difficulties. He reflects on the changing face of journalism, the rise of television as a medium, and the evolution of reporting styles. Political interference and the uncovering of corruption feature prominently. Sander's stance on civil rights issues and American involvement in the Vietnam War did not endear him to those in authority and Richard Nixon, in particular, proved to be a formidable enemy. Details of Sander's friendship with the Kennedy family were particularly insightful, while the assassination of both JKF and his brother Robert came as a hard blow. The book is rounded off with evocative family photographs and an extensive bibliography. It is a well-written account of a family at a pivotal time in American history, an enthralling read, and will be enjoyed by a wide audience.