Academic journal article Journalism History

Dispatches and Dictators: Ralph Barnes for the Herald Tribune

Academic journal article Journalism History

Dispatches and Dictators: Ralph Barnes for the Herald Tribune

Article excerpt

Mahoney, Barbara S. Dispatches and Dictators: Ralph Barnes for the Herald Tribune. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2002.310 pp. $24.95.

A reporter stationed abroad in the center of an international conflict which threatens both a new type of warfare and a realignment of global alliances.

It is not Iraq in 2003.

It is Ralph Barnes in Berlin in the late 1930s.

Dispatches and Dictators is an effective and engaging blend of details about the personal and professional sacrifices, successes, and standards of Ralph Barnes, whose career began officially and quite humbly at the Brooklyn Eagle in 1924 and ended tragically in November 1940 on a mountainside in Yugoslavia while serving as a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. After Barnes died, his name was largely forgotten, but in its rediscovery his work is considered especially perceptive regarding the nature and impact of Russia's social experiment of the 1930s.

As a journalist, Barnes served in Paris, Rome, Moscow, Berlin, and London between the two world wars, and he reported on Nazism, Communism, and Fascism. Josef Stalin personally ordered him confined to Moscow for (accurately) disclosing that millions of Soviet citizens were dying in the agricultural collectives about which Russia boasted.

His professional personality was marked by three distinguishing characteristics: He was a voracious reader, he was fiery in his independence (which was especially important when facing down Soviet censors), and he trusted his own perception regarding the most important facts in the story unfolding before him. As a son, husband, and father, he endured literally years away from his wife and small children while helping to support his aging parents financially. …

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