The Voice of America: Lowell Thomas and the Invention of 20th-Century Journalism

The Voice of America: Lowell Thomas and the Invention of 20th-Century Journalism

by Mitchell Stephens


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**WINNER, Sperber Prize 2018, for the best biography of a journalist**

The first and definitive biography of an audacious adventurer—the most famous journalist of his time—who more than anyone invented contemporary journalism.

Tom Brokaw says: "Lowell Thomas so deserves this lively account of his legendary life. He was a man for all seasons."

“Mitchell Stephens’s The Voice of America is a first-rate and much-needed biography of the great Lowell Thomas. Nobody can properly understand broadcast journalism without reading Stephens’s riveting account of this larger-than-life globetrotting radio legend.” —Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of Cronkite

Few Americans today recognize his name, but Lowell Thomas was as well known in his time as any American journalist ever has been. Raised in a Colorado gold-rush town, Thomas covered crimes and scandals for local then Chicago newspapers. He began lecturing on Alaska, after spending eight days in Alaska. Then he assigned himself to report on World War I and returned with an exclusive: the story of “Lawrence of Arabia.”

In 1930, Lowell Thomas began delivering America’s initial radio newscast. His was the trusted voice that kept Americans abreast of world events in turbulent decades – his face familiar, too, as the narrator of the most popular newsreels. His contemporaries were also dazzled by his life. In a prime-time special after Thomas died in 1981, Walter Cronkite said that Thomas had “crammed a couple of centuries worth of living” into his eighty-nine years. Thomas delighted in entering “forbidden” countries—Tibet, for example, where he met the teenaged Dalai Lama. The Explorers Club has named its building, its awards, and its annual dinner after him.

Journalists in the last decades of the twentieth century—including Cronkite and Tom Brokaw—acknowledged a profound debt to Thomas. Though they may not know it, journalists today too are following a path he blazed. In The Voice of America, Mitchell Stephens offers a hugely entertaining, sometimes critical portrait of this larger than life figure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781137279828
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/20/2017
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 644,699
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism in the Carter Institute at New York University, is the author of A History of News, a New York Times “notable book of the year.” Stephens also has written several other books on journalism and media, including Beyond News: The Future of Journalism and the rise of the image the fall of the word. He also published Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World. Stephens was a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He shares Lowell Thomas’ love of travel and had the privilege of following Thomas' tracks through Colorado, Alaska, the Yukon, Europe, Arabia, Sikkim and Tibet.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Messenger 1

1 A Portrait of the Journalist as a Young Cowboy 7

2 Two Scoops in Chicago 26

3 See America First 40

4 Too Good to Be True 58

5 Something More Colossal Than Anything of Its Kind Ever Tried 82

6 A Blue-Eyed, Beardless Man in Arab Robes 94

7 Come with Me to the Land of History, Mystery and Romance 108

8 How Dull It Is to Pause 128

9 Having the Ear of America 151

10 The Voice of God 174

11 Catching Up with the War 198

12 The Very Roof of the World 220

13 An Entirely New Form of Entertainment 240

14 To Strive, To Seek, To Find, and Not to Yield 256

Epilogue: He Loved the Face of the Earth 280

Acknowledgments 285

Notes 289

Index 321

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