Alec Klein: Like Father, Like Son

It’s a little-known fact that investigative reporter Alec Klein’s following in a family tradition by writing about the economy, news, and public affairs–with a healthy dollop of gossip. Klein’s father is Ed Klein, the former editor in chief of The New York Times Magazine, who has been writing a gossip column for Parade Magazine as “Walter Scott” for the past ten years. Klein pere has written several books about the Kennedy’s, including All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy (1996) and Just Jackie: Her Private Years (1998), both full of juicy–and well-researched tidbits.
Klein fils is a Brown graduate who worked as a newspaper reporter, at the Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) the Baltimore Sun, and The Wall Street Journal, before moving onto the Washington Post.

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  1. joel block says:

    This is a father-son excerpt from the most powerful book ever published on the subject, The Wrong Schwartz. ( I’ve read the book several times—and, full disclosure, I wrote it! Joel D. Block.
    Check this out…
    When I failed to score the highest on a school-wide test, my father ripped into me for so long that I nearly passed out on my feet. Then he turned and extended a strap toward me.
    “What’s that for,” I asked with terror.
    “Beat me,” he demanded.
    “Beat me for having raised a loser! You want to turn out like the Wrong Schwartz boy? Is that what you want to become? Is that what you want to make of me!”
    The Wrong Schwartz boy, as he was called, was the shining example of underachievement used by my father and fathers like him. It was shame enough if a child, especially male, was born dull. Shameful, but it couldn’t be helped. Those in my community might shake their heads about boys who simply didn’t have it. They might throw up their hands, but tragedies happen, and they would eventually understand.
    To be capable and not hard working, that was another thing altogether. The family of such an offspring might as well have moved to a leper colony.
    Harold Schwartz, older than I, in his twenties, was the firstborn of brilliant twin boys. Unlike his super-achieving brother, a Harvard law professor, he committed the unpardonable sin of having brains and not using them. He buckled under the weight of expectation and spent most of his energy making sure he would not be first in anything again. He disappointed every expectation his parents had for him. He was finally cast out of the family when he managed to get a full scholarship despite himself, then lost it due to academic failure, and appeared happy, a successful failure.
    My father thrust the strap into my hand and my body shook with a palsy of fright. He made me beat him. It would have taken a lot more courage, much more than I could muster to refuse him. The question of how free of him I might dare to be was not open for consideration. I closed my eyes and pulled back my trembling arm striking him repeatedly.
    “Harder,” he demanded. “Harder!”
    “Noooooo!” In shame and rage I felt the scalding cry come from my throat. He would not release me. The pain of beating my father was so severe that it made me moan. A river of tears fell from my eyes and down my cheeks until he granted me permission to stop. Afterwards the tears continued to flow so heavily that I saw nothing around me for several moments.
    Then I felt intense shame. Shame for failing to be the best, shame for failing my father, shame for crying. My father never cried, I wasn’t supposed to cry either. Crying was weak, and I felt shame for showing weakness.

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