From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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*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
, 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 BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved