I have a disease. It's called depression," Cronkite writes in the introduction to this collection of interviews with fellow sufferers, among them Mike Wallace, Dick Clark, Joan Rivers and Kitty Dukakis.
Cronkite, daughter of Walter, the retired CBS anchorman, writes about subjects she knows well. Her previous book, On the Edge of the Spotlight (1981), explored the lives of children of celebrities. Here Cronkite artfully mixes statistical information, interviews with medical specialists and personal accounts by people who have been afflicted with the disease.
Recalling his bouts with near-suicidal depression, William Styron observes, "You don't emerge suddenly as some kind of remarkable new person, you know. That's a myth, that somehow it converts you into a new, luminous human being." Dick Clark describes dark times as a teen with acne. "I would get home and close the door and stay there until I had to come out the next day."
And Rod Steiger offers this: "Depression is like a fine mist that enters through the pores of your skin over a period of months and then maybe years. It's growing and it's not stoppable without help." Cronkite has embarked on a worthy mission, and for some her book may be the first step to recovery. (Doubleday, $22.50)