POLITICAL ANIMALS: Memoirs of a Sentimental Cynic by Walter Trohan

POLITICAL ANIMALS: Memoirs of a Sentimental Cynic

Email this review


Fresh from wiping-the brains off his shoes after the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Trohan was sent by the conservative Chicago Tribune to its Washington bureau, where he stayed for decades, becoming the adviser, drinking buddy and speechwriter of everyone you can imagine, while carrying on his official duties for one of the last of the great American eccentrics, Colonel McCormick, the Tribune's owner. For Midwesterners over thirty, the McCormick lore alone will make a pleasure out of this often smug memoir. For voyeurs of the New Deal there is Trohan's experience as one of the inner circle of journalists who always thought they were getting more from FDR than they did until the Colonel's opposition to World War II (unlike the friendly feud over the New Deal) cut Trohan off. Trohan spent a lot of time assembling evidence that Pearl Harbor, as others have agreed, was a setup. Usually, however, his research was geared to gathering dirt, often on nominal friends -- affidavits about Eisenhower's relationship with his WAAC driver, silly rumors of an earlier marriage by Jack Kennedy, notes on Joe McCarthy's lust for young girls and the HUAC members' drinking bouts (If I had been a leftist, I would have used them, he muses, but McCarthy was a close associate -- ""I begged him to understate his case""). Trohan remained a ""conservative,"" devoted to Goldwater and the ""saintly"" Syngman Rhee, and as he aged and the Tribune became less important, his access to presidents and power brokers (Jim Farley, John L. Lewis, Earl Warren) slackened off. Though he had been on confidential terms with Joe Kennedy before the war, he had little cachet in the Kennedy administration, which receives some of his better barbs (""Both JFK and FDR seemed to be saying something new and startling when they were at their most banal. . .""). Now retired in County Clare, Ireland, Trohan has aptly subtitled the book, and plenty of readers will feel cynically sentimental about him.

Pub Date: March 28th, 1975
Publisher: Doubleday