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Fifty Years of Commentary by H. Brandt Ayers
LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics
The grainy black-and-white television ad shows a young girl in a flower-filled meadow, holding a daisy and plucking its petals, which she counts one by one. As the camera slowly zooms in on her eye, a man’s solemn countdown replaces hers. At zero the little girl’s eye is engulfed by an atomic mushroom cloud. As the inferno roils in the background, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s voice intones, “These are the stakes—to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.” In this thought-provoking and highly readable book, Robert Mann provides a concise, engaging study of the “Daisy Girl” ad, widely acknowledged as the most important and memorable political ad in American history. Commissioned by Johnson’s campaign and aired only once during Johnson’s 1964 presidential contest against Barry Goldwater, it remains an iconic piece of electoral propaganda, intertwining cold war fears of nuclear annihilation with the increasingly savvy world of media and advertising. Mann presents a nuanced view of how Johnson’s campaign successfully cast Barry Goldwater as a radical too dangerous to control the nation’s nuclear arsenal, a depiction that sparked immediate controversy across the United States. Repeatedly analyzed in countless books and articles, the spot purportedly destroyed Goldwater’s presidential campaign. Although that degree of impact on the Goldwater campaign is debatable, what is certain is that the ad ushered in a new era of political advertising using emotional appeals as a routine aspect of campaign strategy.
McCarthyism Aimed at the Press
Dark Days in the Newsroom traces how journalists became radicalized during the Depression era, only to become targets of Senator Joseph McCarthy and like-minded anti-Communist crusaders during the 1950s. Edward Alwood, a former news correspondent describes this remarkable story of conflict, principle, and personal sacrifice with noticeable élan. He shows how McCarthy's minions pried inside newsrooms thought to be sacrosanct under the First Amendment, and details how journalists mounted a heroic defense of freedom of the press while others secretly enlisted in the government's anti-communist crusade.
Relying on previously undisclosed documents from FBI files, along with personal interviews, Alwood provides a richly informed commentary on one of the most significant moments in the history of American journalism. Arguing that the experiences of the McCarthy years profoundly influenced the practice of journalism, he shows how many of the issues faced by journalists in the 1950s prefigure today's conflicts over the right of journalists to protect their sources.
The Chronicles of a Hard of Hearing Reporter
Elizabeth Thompson’s hearing loss was detected when she was in elementary school, and her hearing continued to deteriorate until she became completely deaf. Like many other hard of hearing and late-deafened individuals, her hearing loss complicated the general challenges of life. She struggled through school, worked as a secretary, married, had a daughter, and then found herself living as a single mother. She remarried, and soon after learned that she had contracted Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Despite these hurdles, Thompson always expressed her determination to enjoy the best life had to offer. Her astonishing exuberance might have gone unnoticed if she hadn’t accepted a new position as a reporter/columnist in 1998 for the Suburban News Publications (SNP). Day by Day: The Chronicles of a Hard of Hearing Reporter presents a marvelous blend of her experiences and best SNP columns that illustrate how she created her remarkable outlook. In her columns, Thompson presented how she handled her hearing loss as a personal guide for readers. She used every stratagem available to function full-throttle – hearing aids, FM systems, lights for alarms, TTYs, even training her dog Snert. She also gently counseled readers on how to treat deaf and hard of hearing people with practical consideration and respect. Her pursuit of a fully realized life enabled her to do what she loved most, to meet and write about inspiring persons, many of whom are profiled in her memoir. Thompson eventually underwent cochlear implantation that restored 95% of her hearing, an exalting moment for her. Yet, Day by Day celebrates the entire arc of her life, a wonderful testament to her joyous resilience.
The Antebellum Vision of a New South
In the decades preceding the Civil War, the South struggled against widespread negative characterizations of its economy and society as it worked to match the North's infrastructure and level of development. Recognizing the need for regional reform, James Dunwoody Brownson (J. D. B.) De Bow began to publish a monthly journal -- De Bow's Review -- to guide Southerners toward a stronger, more diversified future. His periodical soon became a primary reference for planters and entrepreneurs in the Old South, promoting urban development and industrialization and advocating investment in schools, libraries, and other cultural resources. Later, however, De Bow began to use his journal to manipulate his readers' political views. Through inflammatory articles, he defended proslavery ideology, encouraged Southern nationalism, and promoted anti-Union sentiment, eventually becoming one of the South's most notorious fire-eaters.
In De Bow's Review: The Antebellum Vision of a New South, author John Kvach explores how the editor's antebellum economic and social policies influenced Southern readers and created the framework for a postwar New South movement. By recreating subscription lists and examining the lives and livelihoods of 1,500 Review readers, Kvach demonstrates how De Bow's Review influenced a generation and a half of Southerners. This approach allows modern readers to understand the historical context of De Bow's editorial legacy. Ultimately, De Bow and his antebellum subscribers altered the future of their region by creating the vision of a New South long before the Civil War.
Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting
In 1961, equipped with a master’s degree from famed Columbia Journalism School and letters of introduction to Associated Press bureau chiefs in Asia, twenty-six-year-old Beverly Deepe set off on a trip around the world. Allotting just two weeks to South Vietnam, she was still there seven years later, having then earned the distinction of being the longest-serving American correspondent covering the Vietnam War and garnering a Pulitzer Prize nomination.
In Death Zones and Darling Spies, Beverly Deepe Keever describes what it was like for a farm girl from Nebraska to find herself halfway around the world, trying to make sense of one of the nation’s bloodiest and bitterest wars. She arrived in Saigon as Vietnam’s war entered a new phase and American helicopter units and provincial advisers were unpacking. She tells of traveling from her Saigon apartment to jungles where Wild West–styled forts first dotted Vietnam’s borders and where, seven years later, they fell like dominoes from communist-led attacks. In 1965 she braved elephant grass with American combat units armed with unparalleled technology to observe their valor—and their inability to distinguish friendly farmers from hide-and-seek guerrillas.
Keever’s trove of tissue-thin memos to editors, along with published and unpublished dispatches for New York and London media, provide the reader with you-are-there descriptions of Buddhist demonstrations and turning-point coups as well as phony ones. Two Vietnamese interpreters, self-described as “darling spies,” helped her decode Vietnam’s shadow world and subterranean war. These memoirs, at once personal and panoramic, chronicle the horrors of war and a rise and decline of American power and prestige.
V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press
On May 7, 1945, Associated Press reporter Ed Kennedy became the most famous—or infamous—American correspondent of World War II. On that day in France, General Alfred Jodl signed the official documents as the Germans surrendered to the Allies. Army officials allowed a select number of reporters, including Kennedy, to witness this historic moment—but then instructed the journalists that the story was under military embargo. In a courageous but costly move, Kennedy defied the military embargo and broke the news of the Allied victory. His scoop generated instant controversy. Rival news organizations angrily protested, and the AP fired him several months after the war ended. In this absorbing and previously unpublished personal account, Kennedy recounts his career as a newspaperman from his early days as a stringer in Paris to the aftermath of his dismissal from the AP. During his time as a foreign correspondent, he covered the Spanish Civil War, the rise of Mussolini in Italy, unrest in Greece, and ethnic feuding in the Balkans. During World War II, he reported from Greece, Italy, North Africa, and the Middle East before heading back to France to cover its liberation and the German surrender negotiations. His decision to break the news of V-E Day made him front-page headlines in the New York Times. In his narrative, Kennedy emerges both as a reporter with an eye for a good story and an unwavering foe of censorship. This edition includes an introduction by Tom Curley and John Maxwell Hamilton, as well as a prologue and epilogue by Kennedy’s daughter, Julia Kennedy Cochran. Their work draws upon newly available records held in the Associated Press Corporate Archives.
The New Art Examiner was the only successful art magazine ever to come out of Chicago. It had nearly a three-decade long run, and since its founding in 1974 by Jane Addams Allen and Derek Guthrie, no art periodical published in the Windy City has lasted longer or has achieved the critical mass of readers and admirers that it did. The Essential New Art Examiner gathers the most memorable and celebrated articles from this seminal publication. First a newspaper, then a magazine, the New Art Examiner succeeded unlike no other periodical of its time. Before the word “blog” was ever spoken, it was the source of news and information for Chicago-area artists. And as its reputation grew, the New Art Examiner gained a national audience and exercised influence far beyond the Midwest. As one critic put it, “it fought beyond its weight class.” The articles in The Essential New Art Examiner are organized chronologically. Each section of thebook begins with a new essay by the original editor of the pieces therein that reconsiders the era and larger issues at play in the art world when they were first published. The result is a fascinating portrait of the individuals who ran the New Art Examiner and an inside look at the artistic trendsand aesthetic agendas that guided it. Derek Guthrie and Jane Addams Allen, for instance, had their own renegade style. James Yood never shied away from a good fight. And Ann Wiens was heralded for embracing technologies and design. The story of the New Art Examiner is the story of a constantly evolving publication, shaped by talented editors and the times in which it was printed. Now, more than three decades after the journal’s founding, The Essential New Art Examiner brings together the best examples of this groundbreaking publication: great editing, great writing, a feisty staff who changed and adapted as circumstances dictated—a publication that rolled with the times and the art of the times. With passion, insight, and editorial brilliance, the staff of the New Art Examiner turned a local magazine into a national institution.
Timeless Lessons for Today's Politics