Join James R. Hagerty, lead obituary writer for The Wall Street Journal, for an exploration of the importance of writing your own life story
In a surprisingly upbeat, heartfelt book about a serious subject, The Wall Street Journal’s veteran obituary writer, award-winning journalist James R. Hagerty, shares his unique skills with those who want to have the last word with flourish, honesty, and even humor. Yours Truly is a guide to making sure your story is told the way you want – and how the process of preparing your own life story can help you live a better life.
Someday, your life story is likely to be boiled down to a few lines. If you leave things to chance, your obituary is almost sure to be solemn, formulaic, and full of errors—an obligatory final chapter written in haste by others. James R. Hagerty, longtime obit writer for The Wall Street Journal, knows how to get the job done right: Do it yourself, starting now, while you still can. In this heartfelt and reassuring guide, Hagerty explains how to preserve your personal history—from crafting a brief obituary for newspapers and websites, to a more thoughtful and detailed mini-memoir for those close to you. Through his personal stories, on-the-job anecdotes, and insights, you will learn what to include, what to leave out, and how to provide historical context, record oral histories and make the most of details, all with candor and wit. Best of all, you’ll find that reviewing your life story helps you think about what you’re doing with your time on Earth and whether you’re on the right path. It isn’t too late to improve the narrative with a stronger ending. Telling your story your way can be the best gift you ever give to friends and loved ones—and yourself.
James R. Hagerty, known as Bob, is based in Pittsburgh and writes obituaries and other feature stories for The Wall Street Journal. Over the past four decades, he also has worked as a reporter, editor and bureau chief for the Journal and the International Herald Tribune in Hong Kong, London, Brussels, Paris, Atlanta and New York. He served as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal's Asian edition (1994-1998) and London bureau chief of the WSJ (2000-2003). He is the author of The Fateful History of Fannie Mae, and Yours Truly, a book on how to tell life stories.
In a surprisingly upbeat, heartfelt book about a serious subject, The Wall Street Journal’s veteran obituary writer, award-winning journalist James R. Hagerty, shares his unique skills with those who want to have the last word with flourish, honesty, and even humor.