Academic journal article Journalism History

The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: Harrison Salisbury and the New York Times

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: Harrison Salisbury and the New York Times

Article excerpt

Davis, Donald E., and Eugene P. Trani. The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: Harrison Salisbury and the New York Times. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012. 283 pp. $32.75

After Harrison Salisbury's death in 1993, New York Times columnist Russell Baker wrote that Salisbury's lifetime of reporting was so important that a grown man could be proud of doing it well. David Halberstam, Salisbury's protégé, referred to Salisbury as an American original, and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times, wrote that he would often subject his actions or decisions to a simple test: What would Harrison think?

So begins Donald E. Davis and Eugene P. Trani's book, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: Harrison Salisbury and the New York Times. The book provides a compelling look at Salisbury's career, including his years as a foreign correspondent, and his coverage of political, social, and civil rights issues in the United States. Born in Minneapolis in 1908, Salisbury entered the University of Minnesota at age sixteen and majored in journalism. According to Davis and Trani, that is where his English professor, Dr. Anna von Helmholtz Phelan, taught him how to write. The University of Minnesota also is where he learned how to survive. He had to if he wanted to remain in Phelan's seminar.

At the University of Minnesota, he became a cub reporter for the campus newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, and eventually ended up as its editor. He dropped out of school in 1927 at age eighteen and later was hired at the Minneapolis journal at a salary of $ 15 a week. He returned to the University of Minnesota in 1929, but was soon suspended for leading a crusade in the campus newspaper against a university rule that forbade smoking in the library vestibule, which made front page news in the New York Times. Shortly afterward he was hired by United Press in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He began working as a foreign correspondent in London in 1943, and was soon assigned to the United Press bureau in Moscow. Davis and Trani write that the highlight of Salisbury's Russian adventures was covering Eric Johnston's 1944 interview with Stalin. Johnson, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had been invited to Moscow by Stalin. As Harrison put it, the next best thing to having an interview with Stalin is to get a firsthand report from someone who has talked to the marshal.

Salisbury returned in 1945 to the United States, where he had a physical and mental collapse and was confined for a short time to a psychiatric ward. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.