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American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson Paperback – September, 1991

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co (P) (September 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316507245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316507240
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,711,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Robert A. Williams on March 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you ask the average American to name a female reporter, most will be hard-pressed to name anyone besides Dear Abby or Ann Landers. These two "Agony Aunts" were sisters and today their daughters and others write their columns. Few Americans can name a woman journalist.

The history of discrimination against women journalists goes back to colonial America. Then came Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman who wrote under the pen name of Nellie Bly. She showed that a woman journalist could do serious muckraking. Her example inspired Dorothy Thompson who was born July 9,1893 in Lancaster, New York.

Peter Kurth has written an excellent biography of this pioneering woman journalist, tracing her life from her childhood in western New York, her journalism career, and marriages and divorces. After divorcing her first husband Josef Bard, she married author Sinclair Lewis in 1928. She divorced Lewis in 1942.

In 1920, she traveled to Europe and wrote free-lance pieces for several U.S. newspapers including the Christian Science Monitor. In 1924, the Philadelphia Public Ledger appointed her their Berlin bureau chief, which made Thompson the first woman to head a major overseas news bureau.

She is notable as the first American journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany (in 1934), and began a crusade against dictatorship and other forms of fascism. Concerning our current U.S. president, she predicted:

"No people ever recognize their dictator in advance. He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship ... When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American. And nobody will ever say 'Heil' to him, nor will they call him 'Führer' or 'Duce'. But they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of 'O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief! Oh Kaaaay!' "
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Format: Paperback
Sad that her career was destroyed by her criticism of Israel. Up until 1945, her anti-Nazi and pro-Zionist credentials were impeccable. What she saw in Palestine totally changed her outlook. She began to write that the proposed establishment of the State of Israel was a formula for disaster, “a recipe for perpetual war” in the Middle East. During her 1945 trip, she discovered that Zionism was not “the liberal crusade that the Zionist leaders envisaged”, and that Israel was to be “not a small state of Jews who chose to live in Israel, but a Zionist state destined to become the leading power in the Middle East.”
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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up by mistake several years ago. I thought it was a bio of Dorothy Parker. It was possibly the best mistake I ever made. Thompson is now a forgotten figure, somehow escaping the accolades heaped upon her peers.
Yet she was a fantastic and inovative woman, breaking new career paths and new ideas. Sure, she wasn't the most likeable of people. But with Thompson that's not the point.
This book has sent me on a five year quest to gather all of the information I can about her, from her book "I Saw Hitler" to collections of her essays. I've been on a tangential search for every thing relating to her I can get my hands on.
And it's all because Kurth wrote a spectacular and engaging biography.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Masterpiece. A forgotten all star woman, a real woman with a real life. Often unruly and self destructive but a champion throughout. The author weaves a rich informative history of Dorothy's era. So much of it, nearly all in fact, rings true today. Wonderful read.
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