Homer Bigart and the Great Age of American Newspapers
Thomas W. Lippman
The captivating story of an influential journalist demonstrates the value of a free press to democratic society
In the decades between the Great Depression and the advent of cable television, when daily newspapers set the conversational agenda in the United States, the best reporter in the business was a rumpled, hard-drinking figure named Homer Bigart. Despite two Pulitzers and a host of other prizes, he quickly faded from public view after retirement. Few today know the extent to which he was esteemed by his peers.
Get the Damn Story is the first comprehensive biography to encompass all of Bigart’s journalism, including both his war reporting and coverage of domestic events. Writing for the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times, Bigart brought to life many events that defined the era—the wars in Europe, the Pacific, Korea, and Vietnam; the civil rights movement; the creation of Israel; the end of colonialism in Africa; and the Cuban Revolution.
The news media’s collective credibility may have diminished in the age of Twitter, but Bigart’s career demonstrates the value to a democratic society of a relentless, inquiring mind examining its institutions and the people who run them. The principle remains the same today: the truth matters. Historians and journalists alike will find Bigart’s story well worth reading.
1. From Small Town to Gotham
2. Homer Bigart Goes to War
3. The Italian Campaign
4. The Pacific and the Bomb
5. Cold War, Tough Calls
6. Conflicts in Greece
7. Two Wars in Korea
8. The Red Menace, at Home and Abroad
9. Leaving the Sinking Ship
10. Cuba, Congo, and Cannibals
11. Reality Check in Vietnam
12. The Great Strike and a New Alice
13. Civil Rights, in Many Forms
14. The Long Roads End
Epilogue: What Would Homer Do?
"Homer Bigart was a giant in the world of journalism and perhaps the greatest reporter of his generation. Bigart is an understated hero—not a man who sought that status, but earned it from his guile and devotion to his profession. This briskly written book fills a big hole in the literature of journalism. A finely researched look at a figure who has long been a reporting legend. This biography is overdue."—Robert Miraldi, PhD, author of Seymour Hersh: Scoop Artist
"Tom Lippman has given us a deeply researched, richly detailed, vividly written biography of Homer Bigart, a great reporter and war correspondent, set against an engaging backdrop of the colorful history of American newspapers and their vital role during their mid-twentieth century heyday."—Leonard Downie Jr., Weil Family Professor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Arizona State University, former executive editor, The Washington Post
"Thomas Lippman’s study of Homer Bigart’s career is journalism history at its best: dramatic, well-researched, contextually rich, and a front-row view of history itself. Get the Damn Story describes Bigart’s brilliance and his foibles, his colleagues and competitors, and the great events he reported. Lippman’s book is a superb model of how to tell the story of getting the story."—Jeffrey Scheuer, author of The Sound Bite Society and The Big Picture: Why Democracies Need Journalistic Excellence,
"Homer Bigart’s reporting about major world events should be required reading for anyone thinking about a career in journalism. He reported and wrote with a style that should be emulated. We’ve forgotten about too many important journalists from the past, and this book brings Bigart back to life."—Chris Roush, author of Thinking Things Over: Vermont Royster’s Legacy at the Wall Street Journal,
"Salted with pungent excerpts from Bigart's writing, this biography captures Bigart's distinctive style Get the Damn Story reminds readers of what has been lost with the ongoing decline of the daily print press."—CHOICE connect
Thomas W. Lippman is a DC-based author and journalist who has specialized in Middle Eastern affairs and American foreign policy for more than three decades. As a foreign correspondent of the Washington Post, he covered wars in Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon, and Somalia. The author of nine books, including most recently Crude Oil, Crude Money: Aristotle Onassis, Saudi Arabia, and the CIA, Lippman won the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award for biography from the Independent Book Publishers Association for his profile of another unsung hero, USMC Colonel Bill Eddy.
224 pp., 6 x 9
3 b&w photos
224 pp., 6 x 9
3 b&w photos
3 b&w photos