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All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone Hardcover – August 29, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684807130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684807133
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Stone (1907–1989), the man behind I.F. Stone's Weekly and a congenital prober behind official facades, remains enormously relevant today, in an era of too much journalistic acquiescence. MacPherson (Long Time Passing) hasn't written a conventional biography——as her subject left no private papers—but has woven in a study of the press (especially establishmentarian Walter Lippmann) and "Stone's running commentary on twentieth-century America." A child of Jewish immigrants, Stone (born Isador Feinstein) was, according to a friend, driven by insecurity and curiosity. A newspaperman for decades, he became "an eclectic craftsman," with a reformist and intellectual bent; even at 19 he quit a job to chase the Sacco and Vanzetti execution. "Izzy," as he was called, emerges as a challenging, complex fellow, an ebullient workaholic adored by his wife. Columnist and reporter, on the left but a self-described nonconformist, Stone issued sound judgments on the Holocaust and the Cold War, yet, the author allows, could be too willing to give the Spanish Loyalists and the Soviets the benefit of the doubt. Near the end of his life, Stone taught himself ancient Greek and wrote The Trial of Socrates, a hit. But his legacy was earned by a willingness to read documents in depth and apply his eclectic, passionate intelligence—and MacPherson brings all this to life in this terrific and timely book. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* With painstaking research, MacPherson offers a penetrating look at one of the nation's most respected journalists and a tour de force of five decades of challenge to the principles of press freedom in a democracy. A man of astonishing energy and intelligence, Stone began his career at 15 as editorial writer in 1923 for the Philadelphia Record and later the New York Evening Post. He went on to write for the Nation, PM, and his own I. F. Stone's Weekly. Suffering poor vision and eventual deafness, Stone eschewed coziness with high-placed sources, relying instead on meticulous research and low-level government workers who had a better feel for what was actually happening. A descendent of Russian Jews, Stone was born too late for the height of the radical socialist era but maintained progressive ideals and was highly skeptical of government policies. He opposed Joseph McCarthy's Red-baiting, the Vietnam War, and FBI surveillance of citizens. He himself was a lifelong target of the FBI. MacPherson chronicles the internecine strife on the Left during and since the cold war era, with Stone battling away at the excesses of capitalism. Interviews with friends, family, and colleagues offer a personal look at a complex man: demanding, prickly, passionate, and iconoclastic. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Myra MacPherson is an award winning best selling author. THE SCARLET SISTERS: Sex Suffrage and Scandal in the Gilded Age, MacPherson's fifth book, demonstrates a return to the compelling issues of women's rights addressed in her first book The Power Lovers: The Effect of Politics on Political Families. Written during the 1970's feminist rebirth, it examined the political family façade for the first time and addressed the handful of women in politics. MacPherson met her second husband, the late Florida Senator Jack D. Gordon, while covering the Equal Rights Amendment battle and he was the sponsor of the ERA in that pivotal state. The granddaughter of a coal miner, raised in a town of 800, MacPherson never stopped marveling at the egalitarian world of journalism; a few years after graduating from college, she interviewed President Kennedy, for example. She wrote about murderers and serial killers, slain Civil Rights leaders and presidential campaigns, Hollywood celebrities and international leaders Fidel Castro and Nicaraguan President Violetta Chamorro, and the aftermath of the Panama raid to capture Manuel Noriega.

In the Mad Men era, she was banned from sports boxes because she was a woman, while covering the Indianapolis 500 and the Miracle Mets World Series victory in 1969. Ben Bradlee hired her for the revolutionary Style section of the Washington Post--which changed journalism on a nation-wide scale with its daily magazine approach to politics and art--while her in-depth profiles included the Watergate criminals. A Post series on Vietnam Veterans led to her groundbreaking classic and finalist in the Los Angeles Times Book Awards, Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation, the first trade book to examine Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. More than a decade after its publication in 1985, Arnold R. Isaacs, noted authority on Vietnam, wrote: "Any approach to the subject of Vietnam's aftermath must begin with Myra MacPherson's ground breaking book. Her book, among the first to break the long national silence on the war, remains one of the most moving and important works on the Vietnam bookshelf." Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22 wrote: "MacPherson's book belongs with the best of the works on Vietnam, and there has been no better body of war literature that I know of."

Her 2006 award winning All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone remains a timely study of politics and the media. It won the 2007 Sperber Award for Biography, was a finalist in the 2008 Pen-USA Literary Award and was named a Best Book of 2006 by the Boston Globe, Rocky Mountain News, and Book List.

MacPherson is on the board of the Hospice Foundation of America and her fourth book, She Came to Live Out Loud: An Inspiring Family Journey Through Illness Loss and Grief was hailed by caregivers. The former first lady Rosalynn Carter, coauthor of Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book for Caregivers said: "Through this very personal story about one woman's battle with breast cancer, Myra MacPherson weaves practical and inspiring lessons into an intimate portrayal of Anna and her family and friends. Those who have an illness and those who care for someone with an illness will benefit from Anna's energy and courage...Myra MacPherson's book is a powerful educational tool for a very difficult subject."

MacPherson is a Senior Fellow at the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College, a member of Veterans for Peace and involved with Project ReNew Vietnam, which assists victims of Agent Orange and Land Mine Victims. Along with other journalists, MacPherson seeks to further excellence in reporters through her participation on the advisory board of the National Molly Award in honor of Molly Ivins and the Harvard Nieman Journalism Foundation I.F.Stone award for Journalistic Independence. Along with other writers MacPherson seeks to further excellence in young journalists through her participation on the advisory board of the National Molly Award in honor of Molly Ivins and the Harvard Nieman I. f. Stone Award for a Journalistic Independence.

Her son, Michael Siegel, is a political strategist in Washington, DC. Her daughter, Leah Siegel, an award-winning producer for ESPN, died of breast cancer in 2010.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Dr. H. David Prensky on October 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I had been looking forward eagerly to All Governments Lie, Myra MacPherson's thorough study of I.F. Stone's work and times. I had a deep personal interest in the project and confess to being absolutely delighted with the results.

I mention a deep personal interest and the reasons for this are many. For starters: I am a contemporary and there aren't too many of us left. It is true that he was 10 years my senior but still we shared depression and war and cold war years. I can't say that we knew each other, although we did meet on a few widely scattered occasions, but I did attend his school, The University of Pennsylvania. There in his home town of Philadelphia, I moved in circles that included relatives and friends with whom he had grown up. That enables me to say that I had a good second hand acquaintance with him.

I introduce myself in this manner to justify the comments I am about to make about the book. I confine myself to just one area of the book's treatment of the life of the man the author calls "the rebel journalist". I felt warm satisfaction in the way she swept into the garbage pail the ludicrous charge that Stone was guilty of espionage for the Soviet Union. She is convincing on the subject and reminds us of what should put an end to this baseless gossip. The F.B.I. never found one shred of evidence, and it was not for lack of trying.

J. Edgar Hoover was a stubborn, determined man when he had a hated target in his sights. He despised Stone to the point where he had made up his mind to get rid of him. To him the Stone threat was in the same class as those of Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein and we recall the viciousness and relentlessness of his attempts to ruin them.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By C. Kurdas on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
With the hindsight of several decades, it is easy to poke holes in I.F. Stone's writings. Yes, his notion of combining a free society with socialism was utopian. Yes, his economic arguments tend to be wooly in the extreme. Yes, he was wrong in denying the Soviet connections of some of his communist friends. Stone's books stay fresh despite those mistakes because he was right about a lot: governments, racism, wars.

He was so right that what he says about the cold war and Korea and Vietnam provides insight into the wars America wages today. Beyond the light he sheds on specific events, Stone offers an alternative model of journalism. His journalism, based on a close reading of all sources, is independent of the powers that be. Today's news reporting is dominated by the hypocrisy of the "he said, she said" model: include a counter-quote and the story supposedly becomes neutral. Stone was not politically neutral, but he was independent and truthful. He did not regurgitate the received view. He would not have fallen for the addled rationales that skewed public opinion in favor of starting the war in Iraq.

MacPherson's biography is a great way to get to know the irrepressible, fiercely intelligent and marvelously funny Izzy--a man who retains his curiosity and innocence even as he fights against injustice and idiocy and is beset by malignant bureaucrats and scheming politicos. It's not about his private life, but the book does bring the man to life.

Through Stone, one understands American history with all its grandness and squalor, in ways rarely available from history books. MacPherson has done a service to the Republic in bringing together this mass of material and preserving the memory of an outstanding American. Anybody who cares about the country should read it.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Cowart on October 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I.F. Stone, a great reporter, told the truth to power without giving it a second thought. Would that the current crop of investigative reporters had done the same. This book, beautifully written by former reporter Myra MacPherson, through ten years of interviews and research, puts Stone in context to his times, and will make you wish there was such a person watching Washington today. Buy this book now.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jack Rosenblum on December 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In the interest of full disclosure, I have a bit of personal history with Izzy, Esther, and their son Chris, as well as a smaller bit with the author. From 1959 to 1962 I was a classmate and acquaintance of Chris in law school. Chris told me about his dad and convinced me to subscribe to I.F. Stone's Weekly, which I continued to do until its demise. Sometime in 1966 or 1967 while living in Washinton, DC, I threw a party and on a whim invited Izzy and Esther, and to my great surprise, they accepted and showed up. Then, to cap it off, two months ago, when I was about halfway through the book, I was at a cocktail party and was introduced to someone named...Myra MacPherson. Of course I was entranced with the bizarre coincidence of meeting someone whose book I was currently reading. I mention all this in case you might want to discount my enthusiasm for the book because of possible bias.

This book is valuable for so many reasons: first, it tells the story of a life well lived, of a man who had the courage to follow his passion and tell the truth as he saw it, letting the chips fall where they would without being intimidated by any possible reactions. It is an inspirational story. Second, it provides a perspective on American history from the thirties and into the seventies, with Izzy's prescience about our role in Vietnam presaging similar concerns about our current role in Iraq. Third, it traces the history of leftist politics with all the various and twisting strands during that period. Fourth, it documents the depredations of the FBI in its view of certain varieties of free speech as subversive, along with those of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
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