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Robert Timberg

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Captain Robert Timberg, USMC (ret.) “graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1964 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He served with the First Marine Division in South Vietnam from March 1966 to February 1967.

Captain Robert Timberg has been a newspaper reporter for the past twenty-five years. From 1973 to 1981 he worked for the Baltimore Evening Sun. In 1981 he joined the Washington bureau of the Baltimore Sun. From 1983 to 1988 he was the Sun''s White House correspondent. In 1986 he was awarded the Aldo Beckman Award, given annually by the White House Correspondents Association for excellence in covering the White House. He is currently deputy chief of the Sun''s Washington bureau.

Captain Robert Timberg holds a master''s degree in journalism from Stanford. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.  In addition to daily reporting, Timberg has contributed articles to Esquire, the Washington Journalism Review, and Nieman Reports.

Captain Robert Timberg is the author of The Nightingales Song; State of Grace: A Memoir of Twilight Time; and, John McCain: An American Odyssey.

According to the book description of State of Grace: A Memoir of Twilight Time, “The Nightingale's Song was Robert Timberg's extraordinary tale of well-intentioned but ill-starred warriors. In State of Grace, his long-awaited new book, he revives the powerful themes of courage, manhood and loss in a strikingly personal exploration of America between the Good War and Vietnam. "It was the twilight of innocence, or what passed for innocence if you didn't look too closely," he writes. "America was at peace, peering confidently into the future, when it should have been holding its breath for what lay ahead."

Robert Timberg has his finger on the pulse of a generation that split along a fault line called Vietnam, between those who went and those who didn't. In his unflinching and riveting The Nightingale's Song, Timberg chronicled a nation haunted by the war and its corrosive aftermath. Now, in State of Grace, the author rediscovers an earlier time and an America now largely lost.

Using the New York City sandlot football team he played for after high school as a rich metaphor for what was best about that bygone era, Timberg evokes the period in fine detail and vivid color. It was a world of girls, beer and the proverbial Big Game, but it also was defined by faith in tradition and institutions, including a still unsullied Catholic Church. State of Grace captures life on the threshold of Kennedy's Camelot, before the Beatles, before the Pill, but in the ever-expanding shadow of Vietnam, "a time when the path to an honorable future seemed as straightforward as playing hard, hitting clean, and not fumbling the ball."

The tale is told through Timberg's own eyes as he moves from troubled youth to man, from running back on a team called the Lynvets to Naval Academy plebe to Marine officer. The story is also told through a collection of other characters, including a genius of a coach overmatched when off the field, a driven quarterback sidetracked by booze and an angry loner fresh from the army stockade who reclaims his life on the gridiron. As Timberg writes, the team was where he and his fellow Lynvets "found a toe-hold on our better selves during a troubled time in our lives. Those snatches of pride and courage and strength we shared...eventually grew within us, becoming the core of a decent manhood that might have easily eluded any one of us in other circumstances. There were times, for each of us, when it was all we had."

State of Grace: A Memoir of Twilight Time
Robert Timberg  More Info

The Nightingale's Song
Robert Timberg  More Info
John McCain: An American Odyssey
Robert Timberg  More Info

According to the book description of The Nightingales Song, “Robert Timberg weaves together the lives of Annapolis graduates John McCain, James Webb, Oliver North, Robert McFarlane, and John Poindexter to reveal how the Vietnam War continues to haunt America. Casting all five men as metaphors for a legion of well-meaning if ill-starred warriors, Timberg probes the fault line between those who fought the war and those who used money, wit, and connections to avoid battle. A riveting tale that illuminates the flip side of the fabled Vietnam generation -- those who went.”


Booklist said of John McCain: An American Odyssey, “To buy or not to buy: that is the question. Librarians may recall Timberg's The Nightingale's Song (1995), which took a nuanced look at the U.S. Naval Academy and its role in American life by examining the careers of five graduates: McCain; Iran-contra figures Oliver North, John Poindexter, and Bud McFarlane; and novelist and former navy secretary James Webb. In this volume, the author draws on his earlier McCain research but adds "new chapters on McCain's boyhood and youth, on the Keating Five scandal, and on the years since that ordeal ended," as well as a recast Prologue and a new Epilogue. Timberg, himself an Academy graduate, was White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun during the Reagan administration; he is now deputy chief of that paper's Washington bureau. Where interest in the Arizona senator's presidential candidacy is strong, this focused volume may be popular, especially because McCain's own recent work (Faith of My Fathers ) covers only the military careers of the senator and his father and grandfather.”

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