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Written into History: Pulitzer Prize…
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Written into History: Pulitzer Prize Reporting of the Twentieth Century…

by Anthony Lewis

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 080506849X, Hardcover)

Nearly a century has passed since the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer endowed the journalism prize that bears his name, observing, "Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to known the right and the courage to do it, can preserve the public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery." Over that period, The New York Times and its writers have taken more Pulitzer prizes than any other newspaper, and the sampling of their work that Anthony Lewis offers in this collection ably shows why this should be so.

Taking in book reviews, commentaries on art and architecture, editorials, news pieces, and work that falls into the comparatively new genre of "news analysis," that sampling is more than a celebration of a single newspaper, influential though it may be; it is also a record of historical events as they have unfolded. An entry by Harrison Salisbury, for example, documents the Soviet Gulag system, "so routine, ordinary, and common ... that local residents seem not to have the slightest embarrassment about such phenomena." Another, by Sydney Schanberg, renders a surreal slice-of-life portrait of a Cambodian town undergoing round-the-clock shelling. Still another, by Nicholas Kristof, relates the tragedy of Tiananmen Square as "bullets swooshed overhead or glanced off buildings." Closer to home, the anthology also includes pieces on race relations in America, now-forgotten crimes, and the Reagan-era initiative to build the "Star Wars" antimissile system.

For readers with an interest in world history, contemporary affairs, and good writing alike, Lewis's anthology offers many rewards. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:45 -0400)

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