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American Radical: The Life and Times of I. F. Stone [Hardcover]

by D. D. Guttenplan
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)


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Book Description

May 26, 2009 0374183937 978-0374183936 First Edition

Popular Front columnist and New Deal propagandist.  Fearless opponent of McCarthyism and feared scourge of official liars.  Enterprising, independent reporter and avid amateur classicist.  As D.D. Guttenplan puts it in his compelling book, I.F. Stone did what few in his profession could—he always thought for himself. America's most celebrated investigative journalist himself remains something of a mystery, however. Born Isidor Feinstein in Philadelphia, raised in rural New Jersey, by the age of 25 this college drop-out was already an influential newsman, and enjoying extraordinary access to key figures in New Deal Washington and the friendship of important artists in New York.

It is Guttenplan’s wisdom to see that the key to Stone’s achievements throughout his singular career—and not just in his celebrated I.F. Stone’s Weekly—lay in the force and passion of his political commitments. Stone’s calm, forensic, yet devastating reports on American politics and institutions sprang from a radical faith in the long-term prospects for American democracy.

His testimony on the legacy of American politics from the New Deal and World War II to the era of the civil rights struggles, the Vietnam War, and beyond amounts to as vivid a record of those times as we are likely to have. Guttenplan's lively, provocative book makes clear why so many of his pronouncements have acquired the force of prophecy.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At his death, reporter and amateur classicist I.F. Stone was hailed as an iconoclast of journalism, a dogged investigator and a concise and clever writer, an American institution and a journalist's journalist. At the same time, he was called wrongheaded and accused of being a KGB agent. In this sometimes workmanlike but often animated biography, Guttenplan (The Holocaust on Trial) provides a lively portrait of a journalist who was as passionate about radical politics and getting a story right as he was about ballroom dancing. Drawing on interviews with Stone's family and friends, the complete archive of Stone's writings—including fragments of letters—and two previous biographies of Stone, Guttenplan traces his subject's life and career from Stone's early upbringing as Isidor Feinstein in Philadelphia and his days as a college dropout to his birth as one of America's premier journalists in the pages of the Nation, PM and eventually his own I.F. Stone's Weekly. A brilliant gadfly and independent thinker, Stone was at once cozy with New Deal politicians and union leaders. He reported undercover from Palestine as he accompanied Holocaust survivors through a British blockade and became a hero of America's Jews. Guttenplan's lively biography brings back to life a man whose work has often been forgotten but whose writing and life provide a model for the kind of freethinking journalism missing in society today. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for D.D. Guttenplan's The Holocaust on Trial:
 
“Guttenplan sat through every day of the trial, and no wiser, more honest or more melancholy book will ever be written about it.” —Neal Ascherson
 
“A mixture of superb reportage and serious reflection—about the role of Jewish identity politics in the United States, anti-Semitism in Britain and the historiography of the Cold War.” —Ian Buruma, New Yorker
 
“An exemplary book.” —Observer
 
“Well written . . . this is the best overall account we have so far of the trial as a whole and the personalities involved in it.” —Richard J. Evans, Sunday Telegraph

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374183937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374183936
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Radical" Whose Life and Times Resonate Today May 27, 2009
Format:Hardcover
I.F. Stone was an independent journalist now best known for the self-published "I.F. Stone's Weekly," which influenced a generation of crusading journalists. Stone presciently opposed the Vietnam War from the outset and otherwise set a standard for independence and analysis that his spiritual descendants, today's bloggers, can only emulate. Anyone interested in the great ideological, political, and cultural issues that engulfed 20th Century America and still affect us will want to read this fascinating biography. But if you come for the history what will keep you turning the pages is the portrait of a compelling and very human person (Stone smuggled himself into pre-independence Israel to see the first Arab-Israeli war first hand; in his old age, he taught himself ancient Greek and wrote a best seller about the trial of Socrates; after his death, he was unfairly targeted by the right wing as a Soviet agent). D.D. Guttenplan does a masterful job bringing to life the man and the times (just like the title says). Guttenplan has an impressive ability to describe Stone's world, whether in 1920s working-class Jewish Philadelphia or 1960s Washington and New York, and to summarize in a fair and perceptive way the many thorny political and ideological disputes that engulfed Stone, America, and the world. My standard for the merit of a book is how reluctant you are to put it down and how much food for thought it has given you. I loved meeting I.F. Stone, was sad to part company with him at the end, and was greatly enriched and inspired by Guttenplan's depiction of a life and times that continue to resonate today.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Book May 27, 2009
Format:Hardcover
D.D. Guttenplan has got it completely right. I actually knew Izzy Stone a little bit. He was a force of nature and perhaps the 20th century's most important -- and certainly most independent -- political journalist. He was also a completely independent radical who had a life-time commitment to social justice but never compromised his own autonomy or allowed himself to parrot any kind of party line. Guttenplan's clear and intelligent narrative gives us a full picture of Stone's irrascible integrity as well as his utter brilliance as a writer and political analyst. It's also a great read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be forgotten June 19, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Izzy Stone's Weekly provides the best chronicle of its time, far more reliable and critical of power than the Times of any American city. Anyone with doubts to this man's integrity and contribution to the art (rather than the mere practice) of journalism need only watch the great documentary of the early 1970s, I.F. Stone's Weekly, or read D. D. Guttenplan's biography. While, as Will Rogers famously said, nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, I. F. Stone treated that public as if it were the conscience of the republic that Thomas Jefferson believed it would be. While we may lament the degradation of democracy in the United States, it is worthwhile to read about a man who never doubted its importance or its potential. It is about time he had the fine biography he deserved.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First a radical, then a "traitor," finally a saint June 19, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Izzy Stone and I had lunch together a number of times in Washington DC between 1962 and 1982, while I was a Fellow of the Inst. for Policy Studies and he was --- Izzy. The book gets him right. It's an amazing life to absorb. He was gutsy, independent-minded beyond even most radicals: Told me with rueful pride how he had supported Tito's independent Yugoslavia vs. the USSR and lost many thousands of bulk subs for the Weekly that had been bought by unions controlled by the Communist Party. Said he'd never sell bulk subs again -- too dependent on big purchases from a few people.

He told me that if you stick to your beliefs-in-action, first they call you a radical and a trouble-maker , then a traitor (to whatever system you live in), and if you live long enough, a saint. "Beware of sainthood" he said. "I'm not sure it's worth living that long." Read the book!

- Shalom, salaam., peace --
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The Shalom Center
[...]
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carrying the torch June 19, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Those who have read Barbara Ehrenreich's commencement address to this years graduating class at UC Berkeley know how lucky we are to still have a few such journalists as D.D. Guttenplan. Don is able to tell Izzie Stone's remarkable story from the unique vantage point of one who has already lived a contemporary approximation of the same remarkable story. It takes a journalist who has experienced the obstacles that lie in the path of truth-telling to narrate the exitement, the frustration and the ultimate satisfaction of picking the locks on doors that our rulers intend to remain firmly shut. If you're over fifty, this book will be an extraordinary recreation of some of recent history's worst and best moments; if you're under thirty and want to tell it like it is, it will show you what you're up against.

[...]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Hiostility to Bunk November 19, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I.F. Stone has already received at least three other extensive studies, but this is the most comprehensive and detailed social history and biography of Stone.It is I. F. Stone as a radical voice of dissent that is the real subject of this fine biography. Stone emerges as a man of all seasons. Guttenplan refers to Stone's "transit from pariah to a national institution" and frequently sees him as an outsider, but when he traces Stone's life and lists his vast array of important friends and supporters in high places , he appears not as a marginal figure but at the very center of this nation's 20th century history.

These comments are taken for a review I have written for New Politics:A Journal of Socialisst Thought. It is scheduled to appear in its forthcoming issue.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Izzy Stone a man of his time
A good honest look at American History. I came of age in the 60ies an can relate to the events written about in this book. We could sure benefit from another I.F. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jon J Heimark
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography of a dissident journalist
This is an excellent biography of the dissident journalist I. F. Stone, serving also a s a mirror into the 1950s and 1960s, showing what happens to a free society when the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Yossi Gurvitz
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and readable bio of a great American
A masterful biography of a journalist who had a great career, a period of loss of influence and access, and then a second great career singlehandedly scooping the big papers. Read more
Published 15 months ago by RHagan
4.0 out of 5 stars oh! for another i.f. stone!
"agitate!,agitate!,agitate!".frederick douglas is quoted as saying these words.nobody did this better than i.f. Read more
Published on May 2, 2010 by J. O'connell
5.0 out of 5 stars Thick as a Brick
This biography requires a lot of patience. It is a big book, and asks you to go through an incredibly long lineage of people, places, and events that wrapped around the life of... Read more
Published on September 17, 2009 by S. C Sochet
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, and very relevant to today
Well-written biographies are wonderful ways to learn and have a good read. You read without feeling as though you're slogging through a book you have to read for edification, as... Read more
Published on July 21, 2009 by P. M. Nolan
2.0 out of 5 stars Little more than left wing hero worship
Guttenplan, like most of the left is smitten with Stone's left-wing politics more than his journalism. Read more
Published on July 19, 2009 by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply superb
I grew up avidly reading I.F Stone's Weekly in the dim dark days of McCarthyite America. What a delight to read about the man himself. Read more
Published on June 21, 2009 by Joseph Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars I admit I haven't this yet, but there's a reason for it.....
and the reason is I find myself savoring every line. I didn't know I.F. Stone (although I had a couple of brief telephone conversations with him), but he and his reader were... Read more
Published on June 19, 2009 by Jeff Kisseloff
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