Washington Merry-Go-Round

Washington Merry-Go-Round

The Drew Pearson Diaries, 1960-1969

Drew Pearson
Edited and with an introduction by Peter Hannaford
Foreword by Richard Norton Smith

776 pages
14 photographs


September 2015


$39.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

For most of three decades, Drew Pearson was the most well-known journalist in the United States. In his daily newspaper column—the most widely syndicated in the nation—and on radio and television broadcasts, he chronicled the political and public policy news of the nation. At the same time, he worked his way into the inner circles of policy makers in the White House and Congress, lobbying for issues he believed would promote better government and world peace.
Pearson, however, still found time to record his thoughts and observations in his personal diary. Published here for the first time, Washington Merry-Go-Round presents Pearson’s private impressions of life inside the Beltway from 1960 to 1969, revealing how he held the confidence of presidents—especially Lyndon B. Johnson—congressional leaders, media moguls, political insiders, and dozens of otherwise unknown sources of information. His direct interactions with the DC glitterati, including Bobby Kennedy and Douglas MacArthur, are featured throughout his diary, drawing the reader into the compelling political intrigues of 1960s Washington and providing the mysterious backstory on the famous and the notorious of the era.

Author Bio

Drew Pearson (1897–1969) was an active journalist for nearly fifty years. At the time of his death, his column Washington Merry-Go-Round was carried by 650 newspapers. He was well known for his extensive use of investigative journalism. Peter Hannaford (1932–2015) had a long career in public affairs consulting, centered in Washington DC. He is the author of eleven books, including Reagan’s Roots: The People and Places That Shaped His Character and Presidential Retreats: Where the Presidents Went and Why They Went There. Richard Norton Smith is an authority on the U.S. presidency and the author of acclaimed books about George Washington, Herbert Hoover, and Thomas Dewey.


"[Washington Merry-Go-Round] shows even more convincingly the extent of Pearson's direct involvement in politics, often at the Presidential level, and the degree to which it derived not just from standard elements of ego and competitiveness but also from an emotionally committed world view."—Thomas Mallon, New Yorker

"Historians and students can use this book as a source to study issues of the day, how a journalist finds and mines sources to confirm information or secures varying story interpretations, and how a journalist burns bridges with sources by either being overly honest or too critical."—Harvey Strum, American Journalism: A Journal of Media History

“Drew Pearson was the insiders’ insider: He lunched with the powerful, presided over lavish dinner parties with visiting royalty, and in between juggled phone calls with everybody from presidents to prizefight promoters. . . . Political junkies, policy wonks, and people who want to know what Washington was like in the days before it became just a rest stop between political fund-raisers will love this book. Great characters, fascinating gossip, terrific insight.”—Bob Schieffer, anchor of CBS’s Face the Nation 

“One of the most influential columnists in the country, Drew Pearson unabashedly used his clout to lobby for the leaders and legislation he liked, and he tells all in his diaries. Better yet, he reports on private conversations and a few titillating personal peccadilloes of the people whose names dominated the news but who we usually only know through their public utterances. This diary is not only fascinating history, it’s a fun read.”—Cokie Roberts, commentator for NPR and ABC News

“Gossip is the lifeblood of Washington, and no one was better at getting it and spreading it than muckraking columnist Drew Pearson. At the same time, he was a wise adviser to ambassadors, senators, and Supreme Court justices. He was unique in his time and unthinkable today. His diaries from the 1960s read like the true inside story of power at the top.”—Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff  and Robert Kennedy

“No American journalist exposed more wrongdoing, irritated more politicians, or entertained more readers than did Drew Pearson. His diaries provide us with another memorable spin on the Washington merry-go-round and offer insights into how he got the news that made his columns so potent.”—Donald A. Ritchie, author of Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corps

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
Foreword by Richard Norton Smith    
Editor’s Note    
Glossary of Names   

Also of Interest