Cover image for Off camera
Off camera
Koppel, Ted, 1940 February 8-
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Audiobooks, [2000]

Physical Description:
5 audio discs (approximately 5 hrs.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
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Compact disc.
Personal Subject:
Format :
Audiobook on CD


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PN4874.K66 A32 2000 DISK 5 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

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Ted Koppel kept a journal in 1999 because century's end seemed a good time for him to look back at his life and reflect a bit, and to look at the shape of the world as he sees it. Koppel is a thinking man's journalist, as "Nightline" reflects, but his role on that show has been as an interviewer, a fact- and opinion-gatherer. Now is his turn to have his say: He calls on his almost 40 years in journalism, and a fascinating life, to give us an insider's view of the most important people and events of the recent past -- and to offer us as well a view inside the man who, with "Nightline", revolutionized the way America gets its information.

The remarkable events of 1999 -- the Lewinsky affair, JFK Jr.'s death, the thuggery Milosevic and the Kosovo, Michael Jordan's Farewell -- trigger Kippel's recollections and commentary. He share his thoughts on his German Jewish parents, forced to flee their native land; his childhood in England; his deep attachment to family and friends; the misery he observed in Vietnam and Bosnia; the conundrum of race in America.

Here are his observations on the power of the media (including ABC's failures and his own); on the transformation of the American presidency; on Americans' ignorance of the rest of the world; on the frightening violation of privacy in the Internet age; on violence; on celebrity -- and on those damn misleading ads in the Sunday papers.

Candid and thought-provoking, opinionated and witty, touching and angry, an

Author Notes

Ted Koppel was born in Nelson, Lancashire, England on February 8, 1940. He moved to the United States in 1953 and became an American citizen in 1963. He received a B. S. from Syracuse University and an M.A. in mass communications research and political science from Stanford University.

Originally a newscaster for WABC radio, he switched to television reporting while covering the Vietnam War. He is best known as the anchor for Nightline from the program's inception in 1980 until 2005. In June 2006, he began work on National Public Radio providing commentary to Morning Edition, All Things Considered. He has won numerous awards including 37 Emmy Awards, six George Foster Peabody Awards, 10 duPont-Columbia Awards, nine Overseas Press Club Awards, two George Polk Awards and two Sigma Delta Chi Awards, the highest honor bestowed for public service by the Society of Professional Journalists. He wrote several books including Nightline: History in the Making and the Making of Television and Off Camera: Private Thoughts Made Public.

(Bowker Author Biography) Ted Koppel has been the anchor of Nightline on ABC-TV since March 1980. He has won every major broadcasting award, including 32 Emmys, 6 Peabodys, 9 Overseas Press Club awards, 2 George Polk awards, and 2 Sigma Delta Chi awards. Before Nightline, he was a foreign, domestic, and war correspondent and bureau chief for ABC, and its chief diplomatic correspondent. He is the coauthor of In the National Interest. He lives in Maryland.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

What can readers learn from recent presidents' successes and failures and from 1999's welter of events? Two of Washington's more thoughtful commentators have suggestions. Gergen stumbled into the Nixon White House and later served the Ford, Reagan, and Clinton administrations. His focus here is on the nature of leadership, particularly the leadership strengths and weaknesses of his four presidential bosses and, in a final chapter, the types of leadership Americans should seek in electing future presidents. Currently U.S. News & World Report editor-at-large, public-service professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and News Hour with Jim Lehrer commentator, Gergen seems a quintessential "centrist," more fiscally conservative than many Democrats, more socially liberal than many Republicans. His analysis of the achievements and inadequacies of the presidents he served is nuanced and enlightening. Intimate without wallowing in tabloid tidbits, Gergen's description of his work at the White House offers a valuable sidelight on history, plus pointed thoughts on what qualities citizens truly need from their presidents. Remember 1999? The impeachment trial and war in Kosovo, negotiations for peace in the Middle East and northern Ireland, Columbine and Amadou Diallo, the JFK Jr. crash, the growth of the Internet and Y2K fears. Off Camera is a journal of 1999 from ABC News correspondent and Nightline anchor Koppel. Fans of the show will immediately recognize this volume's "voice": Koppel in print "sounds" just like Koppel on the tube. What's different here is that the journal-keeper allows himself to express opinions (and readers learn a bit about his personal life). Koppel's early comments on Kosovo, for example, are quite negative (perhaps reflecting the influence of Henry Kissinger?), but he admits to overreaction when Milosevic withdraws. The shifting demands of the media also come in for thoughtful consideration. ^-Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

This is the spoken version of the daily journalDcentered around major news events (Clinton's impeachment trial, the war in Kosovo) and his personal reflections on themDthat newscaster Koppel began on January 1, 1999. Woven between the news and his opinions are personal tidbits such as reminiscences of his childhood in Germany and England, his fear of growing old, his love for his wife, his bouts with depression, his constant travels and the double-edged sword of celebrity. Listeners will readily recognize Koppel's Nightline-style delivery, although they may be surprised to find that the way Koppel reads from his memoir is no different than the way he reads from a TelePrompTer. The consummate journalist, he remains objective in delivering everything from the death of a friend and colleague to his plans for building a house. Koppel is an observer, a watcher, and although he does harbor opinionsDmany of which are clearly stated hereDthey run second to his hard-nosed reporting, even when he himself is the story. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Forecasts, Sept. 11). (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this day-by-day account of 1999, Koppel, the award-winning host of ABC News's Nightline, chronicles the controversial events from the century's last year, such as the Clinton impeachment trial and the Columbine High School shootings; the potentially controversial issues, such as the Clinton administration's policies in Kosovo or the Disney/ABC corporation's treatment of its news division; and more mundane matters that Koppel makes relevant to the major themes of the journal, such as his confusion over supermarket sale advertisements or his struggle to get caller ID installed in his house. The subtitle of the book may lead some readers to expect a bit of muckraking, but they will be disappointed. Koppel airs no dirty laundry, which is not surprising from someone who expresses great distaste for the obsessive coverage of the sordid details of the Clinton-Lewinski scandal. Yet one does not get the sense that Koppel is restraining himself or hiding anything, merely that this is a person who lives his life with integrity so that his private thoughts are full of the same. Insightful, thoughtful, and honest, this book is recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/00.] Cheryl Van Til, Kent Dist. Lib., Comstock Park, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From "January" January 1 / Captiva, Florida Hope and foreboding. Not necessarily in equal measure, either. What every new year has that recommends it over the old one is the promise of uncertainty. We know what happened last year. There is always the possibility that we will learn from our mistakes, tighten our abdominals, stop smoking, exercise greater patience and dedicate our lives to the selfless pursuit of Man's greater good. There is also the off chance that pigs will fly. What makes the prospect of 1999 particularly gloomy is that the year begins perched on the detritus of 1998. What punishment, short of removal from office, will the U.S. Senate cobble together for William Jefferson Clinton? Surely someone will find an eighteenth-century solution in the delphic mutterings of the Federalist Papers. Actually, the twentieth century has already formulated its own equivalent to the pillory and stocks: Letterman, Leno, Imus and the various front pages of a hundred newspapers and magazines, together with the daily flaying on radio talk shows and television news programs, have already delivered their populist punishment, without having undermined "the will of the people" or, at least, the will of those millions of civic souls who dragged themselves to the polls to vote for Clinton in 1996. Whichever way it goes, it will leave a nasty aftertaste. The president and First Lady will speak piously of national reconciliation, while their loyalists ram the rockets' red glare up the tailpipes of the right-wing fanatics, who have confused low morals with high crimes. The right-wing fanatics, meanwhile, will speak piously of having made television newscasts safe for viewing by their children again (as though anyone without dentures even watches the news anymore), and then they will encourage Lucianne Goldberg to collaborate with Howard Stern in the drafting of "A Moral Compass for the New Millennium." It can safely be predicted, meanwhile, that we are all destined to become wholeheartedly sick and tired of the new millenium before it even gets under way. The term "wretched excess" was coined for the American experience during a year such as this. Has the product been designed that will not presume some benefit of association with the new millenium? Is there a family so removed from the sense of the moment that it has not yet felt the first uneasy stirrings of being insufficiently prepared for next New Year's Eve, even as it shakes off the aftermath of last night? It may yet prove to be a perfectly glorious year, in which decency, civility and good taste prevail. Or pork chops may sprout wings. January 2 / Captiva One more note on the millenium: The New York Times editorial board must be acutely conscious of its responsibilities to point us all in the right direction. Sometimes, though, mere opining or editorializing is not enough; a declaration is required. Yesterday the Times declared that it was all right to take the new millenium seriously. It wasn't altogether clear whether that makes it simply permissible, or if it's now obligatory. The newspaper's finest minds will probably express themselves on the subject again. So far this year the weather here in Captiva has been nothing short of spectacular. That's worthy of brief note, if only because most of the rest of the country is in a miserable deep freeze. Somehow that makes our weather feel even more delicious. Symbolically, that comes close to summarizing America's attitude toward the rest of the world: The weather's just fine here and don't bother us with your whining about crumbling Asian economies, corroding Russian infrastructure, pandemic disease in Africa and the growing likelihood that someone in Isfahan is packing an overnight bag with the wherewithal to pop Cleveland with a biological weapon. I have the uneasy feeling that a few decades from now people will look back at this year and say: Oh yes, '99. That was one of the last pre-war years. Think about it. The rest of the world holds a significantly more jaundiced view of how wonderful we are than we do. We are so busy promoting our virtues to one another that we occasionally confuse the advertisement with the product. George Soros, who describes himself as amoral in the conduct of his business affairs, nevertheless contributed more to Russia in at least one recent year than did the United States of America. He, at least, recognizes that well-directed charity can have enormous practical and positive consequences for the donor. The platform of generous foreign aid, however, is not one on which any American politicican would like to run. Americans appear to have forgotten the generosity and foresight of the Marshall Plan and how it led to the reconstruction of a vibrant West German economy. The rebirth of postwar Japan was only possible because the United States helped the Japanese back onto their feet. In Asia and in Europe the careful calibration of an unambiguous projection of force and a generous policy of foreign aid combined, ultimately, to achieve the erosion of communist power in Asia and its near elimination in Europe. Foreign aid tends to be cheaper and significantly more effective than our when-in-doubt-lob-a-cruise-missile parody of a foreign policy, but casualty-free military action plays well in the polls. How strange that we wouldn't dream of tolerating the captain of a cruise liner setting his course by surveying the passengers, but that we have become quite comfortable watching the ship of state being steered by polls. Anyway, the world's in a mess, weapons of mass destruction abound and we haven't a clue how we would respond to a chemical or biological attack against one or more of our cities. God, it's beautiful outside. I think I'll go sailing. January 3 / Captiva The weather is gloomy. The Jacksonville Jaguars are manhandling the soon-to-be Hartford Patriots and I wonder if I'm the only football fan who doesn't care. I have yet to grow accustomed to the notion that Jacksonville has a football team, and, while the name Boston Patriots made some sense and New England Patriots could at least be justified on regional grounds, the Hartford Patriots is just silly. How about the Hartford Adjustors? The Hartford Actuarial Risk? At four the Packers play the 49ers. OK, I know that free agency has reduced us all to rooting for uniforms, but I have my standards. I'll root for a uniform with a little bit of history. My friend, the executive producer of Nightline , Tom Bettag, has sent me a couple of pages of notes by a historian friend of his, responding to a reckless suggestion of mine a few months ago that Nightline do a series of programs on this last millenium. That, in turn, was prompted by the observations of a Stanford professor friend. My wife, Grace Anne, and I were participating in a Stanford-sponsored hike through Tuscany. Our friend was ruminating on the lifestyle of the Medicis and how they, probably the most powerful and privileged family of their age, lived in conditions that fell far short of those in which an average, middle-class American lives today. Set aside the notion that the Medicis had Michelangelo, da Vinci and Botticelli as house painters and interior decorators; they had lousy heating and cooling, primitive medical care, no electricity, information resources that would be rejected as inadequate by any late-twentieth-century American and no access to fresh fruit in the winter. In some respects, then, mankind has made significant progress. Unbelievable progress in the areas of longevity, health, communication, travel; even social justice, in some places. But as George Bernard Shaw observed early on in this century (before we'd really gotten the hang of it), where man excels is in the science of killing. I see by this morning's Times that the North Koreans may already have spirited away a few nuclear warheads. The Times points out that U.S.-North Korean negotiations have been stymied, that Pyongyang is making increasingly bellicose noises and that the North Koreans have shown they have the capacity to deliver such warheads to Japan, Hawaii and Alaska. As I said, we may well be living through what we will soon recall as one of the last of the prewar years. January 4 / Captiva The northern chill has finally insinuated itself into central Florida. Only Canadian tourists and "snowbirds" from Michigan and Minnesota and "this reporter" (as my old friend Danny Meehan, who wet-nursed me through my first job as a copyboy at WMCA, used to say) are walking around in shorts. My excuse is that I never made it past third form at Abbotsholme School in Staffordshire, England, and consequently never reached that exalted status that would have permitted me to wear long pants in winter. This has inured me, from the thighs down, to any temperatures above 20°F. The spartan rigors of a British boarding school in the early fifties deserve their own footnote as we come to the end of this century. I rather doubt that my parents (German Jews who fled to England just prior to World War II) would have sent me to boarding school at age eleven had there been any other option. They, however, were back in Frankfurt, fighting for reparations in the newly reestablished German court system. They didn't want me going to school in Germany, and there were no relatives with whom to leave me in England. Hence, Abbotsholme. One or two flush toilets may have existed at Abbotsholme in 1952, but if so, they would have been for the private and exclusive use of the headmaster and senior members of his staff. The rest of us used outdoor latrines. These were so utterly lacking in twentieth-century complexity that they cannot have differed much from whatever the ancient Saxons used. Two wooden footrests above a pit constituted pretty much the entire works. I lie. Generations of Anglo-Saxons, perhaps with a little help from the Picts up north, had contrived certain additional conveniences adopted at Abbotsholme: a bucket with some sand (civilized people do not leave their waste uncovered by at least a handful or two of sand), and there had to have been some toilet paper, although memory does not serve. I do remember that "lights out" was at 8 p.m. On those occasions when a coal delivery had been made, our housemaster would creep through the corridors listening at the door of each room for the sound of boys talking. No sooner had such a group of miscreants been detected than the housemaster would launch into his favorite tirade about how "a bunch of juvenile delinquents like you are all going to end up in Borstal" (a juvenile detention center immortalized in Borstal Boy). He always seemed quite pleased to have uncovered our wrongdoing. He would order us to put on our Plimsolls (a crude and early ancestor of Nikes) and then lead us to the courtyard where two tons of coal waited to be shoveled into the coal cellar. Suffice it to say that when we were through with that chore, we were encouraged to take a cold bath. (I'm not altogether sure how the coal was employed, since it was not to produce hot water or heat in our rooms. Indeed, not only were our rooms not heated in the winter, we were required to leave the windows open.) When there was no coal delivery, boys requiring some form of immediate justice would be sent on a late-evening cross-country run. The various "houses" in which we slept were scattered in a rough circle at some distance around the cluster of school buildings. The complete circuit covered approximately five miles. We would be required to run from one "house" to the next, acquiring at each a signed note from the housemaster indicating our times of arrival and departure. It was actually better than shoveling coal. Back to the frigid North tomorrow. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from Off Camera: Private Thoughts Made Public by Ted Koppel All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.