James R. (Bob) Hagerty

If obituaries can't be fun, what's the point of dying?

book cover

Someday the story of your life will be written. The only question is how well or badly it will be written—what sort of picture it will leave behind for friends and family members, including those not yet born.

I’ve written Yours Truly for anyone who wants that story to be fair, accurate, interesting and maybe even inspiring. My book explains how to make sure your story is told the way you want—and how thinking about and preparing your story can help you live a better life.

My advice: Tell your own story. Don’t leave it to friends or family, who almost certainly will make a hash of it.

Yours Truly also guides you in writing the life story of a loved one who is unwilling or unable to take on that project.

Named by the Washington Post as one of 10 noteworthy books published in December 2022.

Contact author: James R. Hagerty

Contact publisher: Ann E. Pryor, Senior Communications Manager, Kensington Books

James R. (Bob) Hagerty, based in Pittsburgh, is the lead obituary writer for The Wall Street Journal. Over the past four decades, he has worked as a reporter, editor and bureau chief for the WSJ and the International Herald Tribune in Hong Kong, London, Brussels, Paris, Atlanta and New York. He holds a degree in economics from the University of North Dakota. Hagerty is the author of “Yours Truly” (Kensington Citadel, December 2022) and “The Fateful History of Fannie Mae” (History Press, 2012).

In his spare time, he directs a Scrabble club, manages a senior softball team and organizes beer-tasting fundraisers for his local public library.

Advance Praise for Yours Truly

“Upbeat, practical and immensely useful . . . Hagerty shares a simple, good-natured approach that can work for anyone. He shows you how to make sense of your life narrative, how to tell it in an engaging way – and how to have a surprisingly good time as you create the story you’ve always wanted to share.”
—George Anders, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of “The Rare Find” and “You Can Do Anything.

“There is no one who understands the treasures to be found in life stories better than James R. Hagerty.”
—Bob Greene, New York Times bestselling author of “Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War.”

“James R. Hagerty, a specialist in lives well lived, has written a book to die for.”
—David Shribman, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of “I Remember My Teacher.”

“Nobody knows more than James R. Hagerty about the stories we tell of the recently departed—and how to make sure you leave behind a good one.”
—Charlie Jane Anders, author of “All the Birds in the Sky” and “Never Say You Can’t Survive.”

"James R. Hagerty’s advice is spot on in his inimitable witty style."
—Kay Powell, retired news obituary editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"If you’ve ever thought of writing your life story, this is the book you need to do it. Acclaimed obituary writer James R. Hagerty provides practical tips, writing advice and heartwarming stories for inspiration. He makes the case, in this highly readable and entertaining book, that every life story is worth telling. Take Hagerty’s advice and do it, and enrich your own life in the process!" —S.J. Peddie, author of “Sonny: The Last of the Old Time Mafia Bosses

"With gentle wit, deep empathy, and a reporter’s sharp eye for detail, James R. Hagerty takes readers by the hand and guides them through the greatest story of all: their lives. This beautiful book will show you how to write your own obituary, but it will also show you a few things about how to live."
—Bryan Gruley, author of the award-winning “Starvation Lake” trilogy.

"In Yours Truly, James R. Hagerty presents a master class in writing not just an obituary, but writing the story of a life with kindness, humor, and truth. This book is a must-have for anyone who cares about how they’ll be remembered, and for those who want to honor a loved one by sharing their unforgettable story."
—Rachael Herron, bestselling author of Fast-Draft Your Memoir

"You might think that a book about obituaries, written by an obituary writer, is about death–but you’d be wrong. “Yours Truly” is very much about life and is a must-read for anyone who expects, eventually, to die. That’s pretty much all of us (unless you have some secret the rest of us missed.) Hagerty’s premise is that writing our own obituary not only eliminates the possibility that someone will get our story wrong, but also provides us with a guide for living here and now. The idea is: write down how you want to be remembered and then live into it. This book sparkles with compelling stories–humorous, poignant, and as engrossing and readable as a first-rate novel. Once I’d started reading “Yours Truly,” I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished the very last sentence. It really is that good."
—Mort Crim, author of “Anchored: A Journalist’s Search for Truth.”