INSIDE by Ken Cuthbertson


The Biography of John Gunther
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 Strong biography of talented, complex, influential journalist John Gunther (1901-70). Gunther's best-selling Inside books (beginning in 1936) were, explains Canadian freelance-writer Cuthbertson, the product of a full and sophisticated life that began in Chicago and was sharpened at that city's university. Gunther began as a fiction writer and early acquired an international point of view that allowed him to regard US phenomena with rare objectivity. Fast-track from the start, Gunther is revealed here as a man at home with world leaders, not easily controlled (though Cuthbertson notes that Gunther, unlike most journalists, shared information with the US government--and thereby gained special access to other information). Handsome and extroverted, Gunther spent the 30's in Europe watching the buildup to WW II. Living in London, Paris, Vienna, and St. Moritz, he covered stories from Moscow and Vienna to Syria and Turkey, and not only met the right people (William L. Shirer, Trotsky, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West, Maxim Gorky, etc.) but had their respect, often their friendship. Here, though, Cuthbertson never loses sight of the earthy Midwest realist. Gunther dealt in the basics. He was a formidable interviewer and got people to say things they hadn't planned on. His subject was power--who had it, what was being done with it, where it was headed. Sometimes he'd confront it, as when he wrote the first US exposÇ of Hitler, getting himself placed on a Gestapo death-list. Gunther was a powerful writer, a precursor of post-50's journalism, with a big, oracular style. In staid 1947, he described America as ``the greatest, craziest, most dangerous, least stable, most spectacular, least grown-up and most powerful nation ever known.'' A bighearted book about a big man, and an excellent antidote for those who feel shortchanged by today's journalism.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-929387-70-8
Page count: 374pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1992