A charming series of letters from a young Walter Cronkite (1916–2009) to his wife, Betsy, chronicles his rising star as a war correspondent.
Sent by the UP wire service to London and elsewhere as a foreign correspondent from early 1943 until the end of the war, Cronkite recorded his long months away from his Kansas City home through copious, effusive letters, collated here by his grandson, Cronkite IV, an associate producer at CBS News, and Isserman (History/Hamilton Coll.; co-author: America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, 1999, etc.). As Cronkite aimed to use his dispatches as a record of his early professional experience, the letters demonstrate the young correspondent’s eye for journalistic detail, but they mostly reveal touching day-to-day details of the hardworking, frequently lonely and uncertain reporter, and his tremendous love for his wife. From his first dispatch in early September 1942 covering the convoy Task Force 38 aboard the U.S.S. Arkansas and early reports from Operation Torch in North Africa, to being embedded in the air war over Europe as part of the celebrated so-called “Writing Sixty-Ninth,” Cronkite was steadily making a name for himself as a capable, trustworthy reporter. He lived cheek by jowl alongside other UP reporters Jim McGlincy, Harrison Salisbury and Bob Mussel and became friendly with fellow newspapermen such as Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune, writing warmly of their gags and drinking bouts. Cronkite’s journalistic breakthrough occurred when he flew in a B-17 bombing raid over Germany in February 1943: His account hit the front page of the New York Times and made Cronkite famous, garnering an offer to join “Murrow’s Boys” at CBS Radio at twice his UP salary. (Cronkite turned it down!)
An extraordinary journey with the most trusted man in America.