"Beachhead Don": Reporting the War from the European Theater, 1942-1945

"Beachhead Don": Reporting the War from the European Theater, 1942-1945

"Beachhead Don": Reporting the War from the European Theater, 1942-1945

"Beachhead Don": Reporting the War from the European Theater, 1942-1945

Synopsis

Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, Don Whitehead delivered battlefield dispatches that were classics of frontline reporting. One of the legendary reporters of World War II, Whitehead covered almost every important Allied invasion and campaign in Europe - from landings in Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio on the Italian front to Normandy, where he went ashore with the First Army Division. Writing for the Associated Press, he covered the brutal beachhead fighting and followed the Allied sweep to victory across France, Belgium, and Germany. Whitehead reported on some of the most dramatic events of the war, from the liberation of Paris and the meeting of American and Russian forces at the Elbe River, to the liberation of Buchenwald. Daring, valiant, and fearless, "Beachhead Don" was one of sixteen correspondents awarded the Medal of Freedom by Harry S Truman. Whitehead also reported from the Korean War for six years and covered national and international politics. Collected here for the first time, his dispatches are classics of war journalism. This book, long overdue, will help a new generation discover Whitehead's vivid, powerful, and unforgettable stories of men at war. John Romeiser provides a richly detailed introduction and background to the man, his work, and his world.

Excerpt

Wars have always attracted writers and journalists. Some writers pack off to the front lines simply because they want to be close to the action of the moment, while others yearn to be at the battlefront of history as it rises over the horizon.

One of the finest reporter-writers in World War II, who covered the action from the deserts of North Africa to the beaches of Normandy and beyond, was Don Whitehead, a war correspondent for the Associated Press.

After World War II, Whitehead covered the Korean War, for which he won a Pulitzer prize. In 1952 he earned his second Pulitzer for a story he wrote on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s trip to Korea after the presidential election. At that time, only seven other journalists in the history of the award had won two Pulitzers.

In 1959, Whitehead, born in 1908 in Inman, Virginia, became a columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel until he retired in 1978. He came out of retirement in 1980 to write once more for the News-Sentinel, and then died one year later.

During his fifty-year career, Whitehead, who called himself a “hillbilly at heart,” wrote close to 12 million words, which included not only his newspaper columns and war stories, but also five books. The FBI Story became a best seller.

But it was his World War II coverage that earned him widespread notoriety, not only among his readers back home, but among peers in the trenches with him and also the boys on the front lines, because that’s where he could be found.

Like his buddy, Scripps Howard’s Ernie Pyle, Whitehead went with the troops, and he lived in the foxholes and tents to see for himself what war was all about. Writing in an inimitable style, he relayed those dreadful scenes in vivid and precise detail and with the color and horror that combat produces.

Whitehead once said that the Invasion of Normandy, when he landed at Omaha Beach with First Infantry Division, the “Big Red One,” was one of the most exciting moments in his career. “Our boys had to fight it out at the . . .

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