IZZY: A Biography of I.F. Stone by Robert C. Cottrell

IZZY: A Biography of I.F. Stone

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A warmly sympathetic but one-dimensional biography of the American Left's most fearlessly independent journalist. Cottrell (History/California State Univ.) concentrates on I.F. ""Izzy"" Stone's journalistic career and the evolution of his political beliefs. That career had roughly three phases. It began dazzlingly in 1931, when Stone was hired by the Philadelphia Record; at age 24, he was the youngest editorial writer on a big-city paper in the country. Later, Stone spent five years with the pro-New Deal New York Post before moving to smaller, left-wing publications such as The Nation. When most of these magazines were killed by the cold war, Stone started his now-legendary I.F. Stone Weekly, in 1953. This second phase of his career lasted until 1971, when he closed clown the profitable Weekly for health reasons and began an active semi-retirement that lasted until his death in 1989. Stone's politics were remarkably consistent: All his life he sought to reconcile Jeffersonian ideals of freedom with Marxist socialism. He had a horror of sectarianism and was thus an enthusiastic supporter of the Popular Front in the 30's and an inspiring role model for New Left activists in the 60's. Cottrell documents all this (and Stone's extraordinary prescience about Vietnam) conscientiously, though unfortunately rehashing the history of the Left in the process. Izzy's voice is seldom heard: Though Cottrell interviewed Stone and some of his family, his account is woefully short on anecdotes and barely touches on Izzy's personal growth. The Philadelphia socialist M.V. Leof, a ""surrogate father"" for Izzy, gets one paragraph; the dark time in 1950, when Stone spent ten months overseas and considered leaving the States for good, also gets the briefest of references. Well researched, but flavorless and flabby; the work seems longer than it is because Cottrell tells you everything three times.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1992
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Rutgers Univ. Press