Bruni, Frank 1965(?)–
Bruni, Frank 1965(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1965. Education: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, B.A., 1986; Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, M.S. (high honors), 1988.
CAREER: Detroit Free Press, Detroit, MI, reporter and movie critic, 1990–95; New York Times, New York, NY, reporter, 1995–98, San Francisco bureau, 1998, Washington bureau, 1998–2002, Rome, Italy, bureau, 2002–04, New York, restaurant critic, 2004–.
MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pulitzer traveling fellowship; Pulitzer Prize finalist, for "Twisted Love"; George Polk Award for metropolitan reporting (co-recipient), 1996.
(With Elinor Burkett) A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse, and the Catholic Church, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.
(With Elinor Burkett) Consumer Terrorism: How to Get Satisfaction When You're Being Ripped Off, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1997.
Ambling into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist Frank Bruni was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his investigative reporting while on the staff of the Detroit Free Press. During that period in his career, he wrote his first book, A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse, and the Catholic Church, with Miami Herald reporter Elinor Burkett.
This study of pedophile priests and the hierarchy that covered up their sins against the children of the Catholic Church offers factual and explicit descriptions of the crimes committed and the statistical probability of the numbers of priests who have, or will, abuse young children. Bruni and Burkett condemn the Church for being more concerned with protecting its image than the children and families who followed its teachings, calling the Church's position "the ultimate betrayal of faith." Donald E. Messer wrote in Christian Century that the authors "are to be commended for forcing us to face the ugly consequences of clergy sexual misconduct and the reprehensible silence and strategies of a church unwilling to face its responsibility or live up to its gospel."
In 1995 Bruni took a position with the New York Times, and from 1998 to 2002, he worked at the newspaper's Washington bureau, where he covered the first presidential election of George W. Bush and Bush's early years in the White House. His observations of the president are collected in Ambling into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush, a volume that benefits from a close relationship between the president and the reporter the Texas-based president sometimes called "Frankie Boy" or "Panchito" (the Spanish version of the nickname). Ben Macintyre noted in the New York Times Book Review that the verb of the title "precisely summons up an unhurried candidate whose vaunted lack of concern with the process was his hallmark, who seemed to wander into office with a sense of awe, ambivalence, entitlement and detached amusement."
The book is anecdotal, documenting Bush's mispronunciations, mannerisms, temperament, and reactions to the power of the presidency. As Bruni wrote, "The Bush I knew was part scamp and part bumbler, a timeless fraternity boy and heedless cutup, a weekday gym rat and weekend napster, an adult with an inner child that often brimmed to the surface or broke through." Bruni notes Bush's tendency to touch male reporters. He says that Bush put his fingers in Bruni's ears, grabbed him by the neck, and pinched his cheeks. "So perhaps it shouldn't surprise that Bruni becomes smitten, dishing to readers that Bush was far more charming in off-the-record gab sessions than his guarded public persona would suggest," wrote Ryan Lizza in Washington Monthly.
Among those reviewers who found fault with the book was Eric Alterman, who wrote in the American Pros-pect that Ambling into History "contains nary a word about health care, Social Security, tax cuts, the Middle East conflict, missile defense, or God forbid, global warming…. We learn precisely how many seconds the Bushes danced at each of the inaugural balls but precious little that would prepare us to understand what the president might be doing the next day when he went to work."
Despite the president's casual behavior, Bruni eventually began to see a more serious side to Bush and observed qualities that overcame his initial impression. This was particularly true following the attacks of September 11, 2001. "Only later," wrote Bruni, "when I watched him in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, did I also see something true and meaningful in his description of his outlook on the presidency and life, an explanation for his ability to ride out storms that might lay waste to someone with a less keen sense of destiny and less ready acceptance of fate." Lizza noted that, as Ambling into History concludes, Bruni "paints Bush as a 'vibrant, probing leader' who 'was turning into one of the most interesting presidents in decades.' His thesis seems to be that by November of 2001, Bush had matured into a true president … hence the 'odyssey' of the book's title."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bruni, Frank, and Elinor Burkett, A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse, and the Catholic Church, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.
Bruni, Frank, Ambling into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
American Prospect, May 20, 2002, Eric Alterman, review of Ambling into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush, p. 33.
Booklist, October 1, 1993, Gary Young, review of A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church, p. 220.
Business Week, April 15, 2002, review of Ambling into History, p. 20.
Business Wire, April 8, 2004, "The New York Times Names Frank Bruni Restaurant Critic and Eric Asimov Chief Wine Critic," p. 5752.
Chicago Tribune, March 20, 2002, Kevin Canfield, review of Ambling into History, Tempo section, p. 5.
Christian Century, April 6, 1994, Donald E. Messer, review of A Gospel of Shame, p. 361.
Economist, March 23, 2002, review of Ambling into History.
Houston Chronicle, March 23, 2002, Elizabeth Bennett, review of Ambling into History.
Library Journal, March 15, 2002, Michael A. Genovese, review of Ambling into History, p. 95.
Nation, June 3, 2002, Eric Alterman, review of Ambling into History, p. 10.
Nation's Restaurant News, September 20, 2004, Bret Thorn, "Former Foreign Correspondent Trades in Political Beat for Seat at Dinner Table," p. 46.
New York Times Book Review, March 31, 2002, Ben Macintyre, review of Ambling into History, p. 8.
Publishers Weekly, October 4, 1993, review of A Gospel of Shame, p. 62.
Washington Monthly, March, 2002, Ryan Lizza, review of Ambling into History, p. 55.
Washington Post Book World, March 3, 2002, Christopher Caldwell, review of Ambling into History, p. 1.
Dream of Italy Web site, http://www.dreamofitaly.com/ (June 26, 2005), interview with Bruni.
Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/ (March 4, 2002), Noam Scheiber, review of Ambling into History.