Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WRITTEN INTO HISTORY by Anthony Lewis Kirkus Star


Pulitzer Prize Reporting of the Twentieth Century from The New York Times

edited by Anthony Lewis

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 2001
ISBN: 0-8050-6849-X
Publisher: Henry Holt

All Pulitzer, all the time: Dozens of classy—by turns subversive, condemning, and exploratory—pieces of journalism from the New York Times.

Since 1918, the Times has received some 81 Pulitzers, and this collection showcases some of the best of them. Intelligently introduced by Times columnist Lewis, the articles range from criticism to scientific discoveries to investigative reporting. Much of this work is so good it still remains fresh in the mind after, in some cases, decades: David Halberstam telling it like it was in the Vietnam of 1963; moving elegies by John Burns for the civil war–torn Sarajevo; and Sydney Schanberg reporting on the descent of Cambodia into the hellish hands of the Khmer Rouge. There are also less-touted articles packing a fresh sting, such as John Crewdson's investigation into the virtual slave exchange of Spanish-speaking aliens in the US. On-the-spot reporting of breaking news is ably illustrated by Nicholas Kristoff's article on the violent retaking of Tiananmen Square from Chinese protestors and John Burns, again, telling of the low doings of Afghanistan's Taliban, but—unforgivably—the report from Thomas Friedman on the Sabra/Shatila massacre is nowhere to be found. Nan Robertson's story on her experience with toxic shock syndrome is in the best tradition of personal reporting, the kind of material that makes your pulse race as you devour the terrible story. Finally, there is the beauty of fine writing, writing that had to be churned out on the spot, under a deadline minutes away, as when Red Smith reported: “New York City is tapped out like a broken horse player and nobody—not Abe Beame nor the town's smartest bankers nor the best fiscal brains in Albany and Washington—knows what to do about it.”

A stellar collection.