Cronkite's War: His World War II Letters Homeby Walter Cronkite
A giant in American journalism in the vanguard of "The Greatest Generation" reveals his World War II experiences in this National Geographic book. Walter Cronkite, an obscure 23-year-old United Press wire service reporter, married Betsy Maxwell on March 30, 1940, following a four-year courtship. She proved to be the love of his life, and their marriage lasted
A giant in American journalism in the vanguard of "The Greatest Generation" reveals his World War II experiences in this National Geographic book. Walter Cronkite, an obscure 23-year-old United Press wire service reporter, married Betsy Maxwell on March 30, 1940, following a four-year courtship. She proved to be the love of his life, and their marriage lasted happily until her death in 2005. But before Walter and Betsy Cronkite celebrated their second anniversary, he became a credentialed war correspondent, preparing to leave her behind to go overseas. The couple spent months apart in the summer and fall of 1942, as Cronkite sailed on convoys to England and North Africa across the submarine-infested waters of the North Atlantic. After a brief December leave in New York City spent with his young wife, Cronkite left again on assignment for England. This time, the two would not be reunited until the end of the war in Europe. Cronkite would console himself during their absence by writing her long, detailed letters sometimes five in a week describing his experiences as a war correspondent, his observations of life in wartime Europe, and his longing for her.
Betsy Cronkite carefully saved the letters, copying many to circulate among family and friends. More than a hundred of Cronkite's letters from 1943-45 (plus a few earlier letters) survive. They reveal surprising and little known facts about this storied public figure in the vanguard of "The Greatest Generation" and a giant in American journalism, and about his World War II experiences. They chronicle both a great love story and a great war story, as told by the reporter who would go on to become anchorman for the CBS Evening News, with a reputation as "the most trusted man in America."
Illustrated with heartwarming photos of Walter and Betsy Cronkite during the war from the family collection, the book is edited by Cronkite's grandson, CBS associate producer Walter Cronkite IV, and esteemed historian Maurice Isserman, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of History at Hamilton College.
Now this historical portrait is new in paperback.
- National Geographic Society
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)
What People are saying about this
"The immediacy of these letters provides an unforgettable glimpse into how people lived during the most devastating war in human history, and shed light on how Walter Cronkite became one of our greatest newsmen." —Susan Eisenhower
"An extraordinary journey with the most trusted man in America." —Kirkus Reviews
Meet the Author
WALTER CRONKITE IV is an associate producer with CBS News.
MAURICE ISSERMAN is the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of History at Hamilton College.
His most recent book is the prize-winning Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes, co-written with Stewart Weaver, which the New York Times called "the book of a lifetime...an awe-inspiring work of history and storytelling."
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For anyone who admires Walter Cronkite this is required reading. It's full of vivid descriptions and great detail of the war, England, it's people and his love for his wife, Betsy. It's remarkable that the letters were saved and could be put into book form.
I have always been a bit of a WW II buff, so this was an easy decision to purchase. It offers an interesting view of the war, the people of England, and the Americans who served there. Cronkite, always a talented observer, shared many experiences in detail, in his letters home. It's a great read.
Format is excellent and composition was well thought out. I guess it was probably just me and my expectation of the Cronkite I watched on the news.
If you like history and are a fan of Walter Cronkite, this is the book for you! It gives you a first hand view of his experiences during World War II--the personal as well as professional. As a woman, I especially related to his messages to his beloved wife, Betsy, who he missed dearly. The letters capture his loneliness and yearnings to be reunited.
Shown on the far left is my grandfather, Ceibert C. Bragg, who joined the Army Air Corp as a gunner/engineer on a Martin Marauder B-26 as a member of the 454th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group. The B-26 crew in the photo flew Walter Cronkite on the "U.S.O." plane the day the photo was taken; however, they were a relief crew whose primary aircraft was "Honest Injun" which flew in the third wave of the invasion of Normandy. During an aerial engagement, my grandfather's plane was attacked by two Messerschmitt fighters; he engaged both and was credited for destroying one. For his actions, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 9 clusters and numerous other recognitions. After 63 combat missions, he entered pilot training and was released upon cessation of hostilities. He reenlisted after discharge and served during the Korean War. He retired as a Master Sergeant after 21 years military service in 1963. My grandfather passed away on May 22, 2011 just shy of his 90th birthday. He was a hero from the greatest generation. God speed.