George Seldes didn't just report history--he made it. The gadfly of American journalism interviewed all of the important men of his generation ranging from Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, to FDR and Harry Truman. Seldes' weekly newsletter In Fact put newspapers to the test of honesty and accuracy. Seldes books such as Lords Of The Press are still used in journalism schools. This collection of his finest writing offers a sweeping view of the twentieth century.
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When comparing him to Lincoln Steffens and I. F. Stone, Holhut finds that Seldes was "the forgotten man of journalism," a curious moniker for the 103-year-old muckracker, whom A. J. Liebling once called "a fine little gadfly." Curious because Seldes achieved in print what many of his subjects vainly sought--a lasting mark on history. Still, his 20-odd books rested in relative obscurity until enterprising Vermont reporter Holhut read a few and initiated a friendship with the centenarian. Divided into three parts, the book starts with Seldes's stint as a young foreign correspondent. His subjects include a smarmy Benito Mussolini ("a strong, silent type"); a bloated Isadora Duncan ready to sell her love letters for a quick buck; and, in an interview later censored by the Allies, a defeated German Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, whom he reached by sneaking into Germany at the end of WW I. Staunch antifascists, Seldes and his wife traded their Vermont farm for the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War, chronicling those years in the pages of part two. In part three, Seldes takes critical aim at the fourth estate and his analysis of Watergate coverage is particularly withering. Although the final chapters could stand a firmer edit, Seldes's prose sparkles throughout.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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