AMERICAN CASSANDRA: The Life of Dorothy Thompson by Peter Kurth

AMERICAN CASSANDRA: The Life of Dorothy Thompson

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Kurth (Anastasia, 1983) presents the life of ""the greatest woman journalist of her time"" in a collage of quotes that is dynamic and sycophantic at the same time. Kurth believes that, despite Thompson's heroic effort to reverse the trend, the character of journalism in the US changed for the worse during her career, which began in 1920 and lasted throughout the 1950's. Meanwhile, Kurth rarely attempts to analyze Thompson's thoughts or career in his own words, but presents his thesis through his faithful collection of Thompson's published writings, her letters to friends, colleagues, and world leaders, and their replies. By quoting Thompson shrilly voicing unpopular ideas that were later to become mainstream, Kurth lets her experiences--such as her 1934 expulsion from Germany and her editor's threats to dismiss her from the New York Post in 1956 for writing anti-Zionist propaganda--illustrate problems for all journalists. Through such episodes, Kurth deals with issues surrounding official and self-censorship and a media aimed at an American mind that, to Thompson, is no longer well informed but simply persuaded. Kurth skillfully shows how Thompson's constant belief in the abstract concepts of democracy and freedom kept her writings controversial while the world around her flip-flopped, but his respect for her never permits him to investigate fully how her bids to outlaw the American Communist Party and keep the Bible a part of the public-school curriculum fit into this larger belief.

Pub Date: June 11th, 1990
Publisher: Little, Brown