Barrett, Marvin 1920-

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BARRETT, Marvin 1920-

PERSONAL: Born May 6, 1920, in Des Moines, IA; son of Edwin Galbraith (a professor) and Esther (Kruidenier) Barrett; married Mary Ellin Berlin (a writer), October 14, 1952; children: Elizabeth, Irving, Mary Ellin, Katherine. Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1942; Drake University, M.A., 1976. Politics: Independent. Religion: Protestant.

ADDRESSES: Home—115 East 67th St., #3B, New York, NY 10021-5901. Agent—Russell & Volkening, Inc., 551 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10176.

CAREER: Time, New York, NY, contributing editor, 1948-52; freelance writer, 1952-55; Newsweek, New York, NY, radio-television editor, 1955-59; Show Business Illustrated, New York, NY, executive editor, 1960; Show, New York, NY, editor, 1961-64; Atlas, New York, NY, editor, 1965-67; freelance writer, 1967—; Columbia University, New York, NY, faculty member of Graduate School of Journalism, 1968-83. Military service: U.S. Naval Reserve, active duty, 1942-46; became lieutenant.

AWARDS, HONORS: Distinguished service award from Sigma Delta Chi, 1975, for Moments of Truth?


The Jazz Age, Putnam (New York, NY), 1959.

The Years Between, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1961.

Meet Thomas Jefferson, Random House (New York, NY), 1964.

Survey of Broadcast Journalism, Grosset (New York, NY), 1969.

Year of Challenge, Year of Crisis, Grosset (New York, NY), 1970.

State of Siege, Grosset (New York, NY), 1971.

The Politics of Broadcasting, Crowell (New York, NY), 1973.

Moments of Truth?, Crowell (New York, NY), 1975.

The End of the Party, Putnam (New York, NY), 1976.

Rich News, Poor News, Crowell (New York, NY), 1977.

(With Zachary Sklar) The Eye of the Storm, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1980.

Broadcast Journalism, 1979-1981, Everest House (New York, NY), 1982.

Spare Days (autobiography), Morrow (New York, NY), 1988.

Second Chance: A Life after Death, (autobiography) Parabola Books (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor) Gathering Sparks: Interviews from Parabola Magazine, Parabola Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Contributor to magazines.

SIDELIGHTS: Marvin Barrett brought his years of experience as a journalist to bear on his own life story in his two volumes of autobiography, Spare Days and Second Chance: A Life after Death. His battle against cancer and heart disease form the basis of Spare Days, and this memoir is marked by "clarity and eloquence," according to a Publishers Weekly writer. On March 4, 1983, Barrett, then aged sixty-three, had a near-death experience. Over the next six years, he kept a journal of his observations on life after that significant juncture. Excerpts from those journals form Second Chance: A Life after Death. The book describes the author's travels, relationships with friends, and his reflections on the process of aging. He savors his experiences, including family reunions, meetings with spiritual leaders, and everyday moments. He presents life's later years as "a spiritual adventure," stated Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat in Spirituality & Health. While some of his reflections may be "obvious," as a Publishers Weekly writer noted, Barrett's positive message is nevertheless "a welcome one." In addition to Barrett's own insights, the book is also studded with quotes from the likes of Jung, Augustine, Goethe, and Tennyson, on the subjects of faith, aging, and death. In the reviewer's opinion, Second Chance "works best in those moments when Barrett writes with simple directness."

In Gathering Sparks: Interviews from Parabola Magazine, Barrett collected interviews, conducted by himself and others, with people ranging from the Dalai Lama and Joseph Campbell to Oliver Sacks and Elie Wiesel. All focused on the question of how to live rightly, and collectively they remind the reader that "there is a wisdom that lives deep in the body, and that at that deepest level of human experience we are all connected," advised a Publishers Weekly writer. Noting that Barrett's foreword to the book was "rather grandiose," the reviewer nevertheless stated that readers who push beyond that "will be rewarded with real food for thought."



Barrett, Marvin, Spare Days, Morrow (New York, NY), 1988.

Barrett, Marvin, Second Chance: A Life after Death, Parabola Books (New York, NY), 1999.


Booklist, April 15, 1988, review of Spare Days, p. 1385.

Christian Century, September 28, 1988, William A. Johnson, review of Spare Days, p. 850.

Commonweal, February 11, 1983, Marie Augusta Neal, review of Broadcast Journalism, p. 88; December 2, 1988, review of Spare Days, p. 658; December 16, 1998, Paul Wilkes, review of Spare Days, p. 693.

Instructor, February, 1990, review of Meet Thomas Jefferson, p. 94.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1988, review of Spare Days, p. 504.

Library Journal, May 1, 1988, Cynthia Widmer, review of Spare Days, p. 73.

New York Times Book Review, July 3, 1988, F. Forrester Church, review of Spare Days, p. 13.

Parabola: Myth and the Quest for Meaning, May, 1988, review of Spare Days, p. 131.

Public Opinion Quarterly, fall, 1982, review of The Eye of the Storm, p. 457.

Publishers Weekly, May 6, 1988, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Spare Days, p. 99; February 22, 1999, review of Second Chance, p. 78; October 29, 2001, review of Gathering Sparks: Interviews from Parabola Magazine, p. 53.


Spirituality & Health, (June 3, 2002), Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, review of Second Chance: A Life after Death.*

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