Publishers

St. Martin's Press
(2017-06-20)

Genres

Non-Fiction
History/Politics/Current Affairs

Current material

MS: Complete Edited

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THE VOICE OF AMERICA

Mitchell Stephens

Lowell Thomas and the Invention of 20th-Century Journalism

Few Americans today recognize his name, but Lowell Thomas was as well known in his time as any American journalist ever has been. Raised in a Colorado gold-rush town, Thomas covered covering crimes and scandals for local then Chicago newspapers. He began lecturing on Alaska, after spending eight days in Alaska. Then he assigned himself to report on World War I and returned with an exclusive: the story of “Lawrence of Arabia.”

In 1930, Lowell Thomas began delivering America’s initial radio newscast. His was the trusted voice that kept Americans abreast of world events in turbulent decades – his face familiar, too, as the narrator of the most popular newsreels. His contemporaries were also dazzled by his life. In a prime-time special after Thomas died in 1981, Walter Cronkite said that Thomas had “crammed a couple of centuries worth of living” into his eighty-nine years. Thomas delighted in entering “forbidden” countries—Tibet, for example, where he met the teenaged Dalai Lama. The Explorers Club has named its building, its awards, and its annual dinner after him.

Journalists in the last decades of the twentieth century—including Cronkite and Tom Brokaw—acknowledged a profound debt to Thomas. Though they may not know it, journalists today too are following a path he blazed. In The Voice of America, Mitchell Stephens offers a hugely entertaining, sometimes critical portrait of this larger than life figure.

MITCHELL STEPHENS, a professor of journalism in the Carter Institute at New York University, is the author of A History of News, a New York Times “notable book of the year.” Stephens also has written five other books on journalism and media, including Beyond News: The Future of Journalism and the rise of the image the fall of the word. Recently he published Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World. Stephens was a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He shares Lowell Thomas’ love of travel and had the privilege of following Thomas' tracks through Colorado, Alaska, the Yukon, Europe, Arabia, Sikkim and Tibet.

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Comments

3. August 2017, quote
An excellent book. Refreshingly honest. Stephens manages to contain that extraordinary life within 400 pages, without becoming his subject's cheerleader. I learned so much.

Bob Edwards, longtime host of Morning Edition on NPR

3. August 2017, quote
A great book! Lowell Thomas was a man of many facets, and in this book he sparkles in the light Mitchell Stephens shines on him. Like TE Lawrence, Thomas was not only a remarkable man but a reflection of the fascinating era in which he lived.

Theodore Janulis, president, The Explorers Club

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