Best known for his 25-year run as anchor for ABC’s Nightline, British-born broadcast legend Ted Koppel is regarded as one of the most honored and influential journalists in American television history. Over a storied career working as interviewer, reporter, and foreign and diplomatic correspondent, the veteran newsman has won 3 Peabodys and 42 Emmy Awards.
Koppel spent 20 years as a broadcast journalist and news anchor for ABC before the 1980 inception of Nightline – a half-hour show specializing in investigative journalism, extended interviews, and in-depth coverage of current events. Under Koppel’s tenure, the pioneering program found its niche in late-night and became one of the highest-profile television forums for hard-hitting news.
Since leaving Nightline in 2005, Koppel has worked as managing editor for the Discovery Channel, a news analyst for NPR and BBC World News America, and currently serves as a special contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning. He’s the author of the memoir Off Camera: Private Thoughts Made Public, an intimate chronicle of the year 1999, and 2015’s Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving, an expose on the possibility of a terrorist cyberattack on America’s power grid.
In a reading list for The Week, Koppel shared the six books that most impacted his life and work. From Ta-Nehisi Coates to John le Carré, find his favorites below. Complement with the bookshelves of Christiane Amanpour, Dan Rather and Dick Cavett.
Ted Koppel’s Reading List
“This slender volume transcends time, fashion, and scientific achievement — everything, in short, that feeds our illusion that we are evolving. Marcus’ 2,000-year-old observations about our conceits, as well as his commonsense recommendations on the virtues of self-control, require no refrigeration, because they’re still fresh.” -TK
“Because it’s all but impossible to remember exactly how we felt as teenagers, Salinger’s portrait of a wiseass prep-school refugee roaming Manhattan should be as mandatory as an annual health exam. It may not create genuine understanding between generations, but it can remind an adult why his or her teenager doesn’t care.” -TK
“An uneasy truce exists between black and white Americans: We avoid giving offense largely by not talking about how race alters lived experience. Coates takes that subject head-on, explaining the nearly constant fear that still afflicts black Americans. This is an uncomfortable book, but brilliant and right on point.” -TK
The Dying Grass by William T. Vollmann
“In this novel about the 1877 clash between the U.S. Army and Nez Percé warriors who refused to give up tribal lands, Vollmann eschews standard punctuation and bounces dialogue among characters without so much as a ‘he said’ to help his reader. But, my God, the man can write. If it’s possible to craft an even-handed indictment of this nation, he has done it.” -TK
“I’m a sucker for Le Carré. He worked briefly in British intelligence, of course, and it’s said that A Perfect Spy is partly autobiographical. Whatever its genesis, it offers mesmerizing insight into what compels a person to follow such a treacherous path.” -TK
The Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester
“If you don’t like swashbuckling naval yarns, never mind. If you do, and you’ve never gone to sea with young Horatio Hornblower, the good news is that there are 11 volumes.” -TK
(via The Week)