Academic journal article Journalism History

Book Reviews -- Harry & Teddy: The Turbulent Friendship of Press Lord Henry R. Luce and His Favorite Reporter, Theodore H. White by Thomas Griffith / Theodore H. White and Journalism as Illusion by Joyce Hoffmann

Academic journal article Journalism History

Book Reviews -- Harry & Teddy: The Turbulent Friendship of Press Lord Henry R. Luce and His Favorite Reporter, Theodore H. White by Thomas Griffith / Theodore H. White and Journalism as Illusion by Joyce Hoffmann

Article excerpt

Griffith, Thomas. Harry & Teddy: The Turbelant Friendship of Press Lord Henry R. Luce arzd His Favorite Reporter, Theodore H. White. New York: Random House, 1995. 340 pp. $24.

Hoffmann, Joyce. Theodore H. White and Journalism as Illusion. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1995. 194 pp. $27.50.

Theodore H. White's legacy as a journalist is far from simple or clear. Although his pen was powerful enough to etch into history Jacqueline Kennedy's Camelot metaphor describing her slain husband's administration, the veracity of that image and his other close readings of U.S. presidential campaigns have been derided as coming from a reporter too cuddly with his sources.

Now, two strikingly different books try to peer closer at White to understand the man who befriended and seemed to thrive on his closeness to the most powerful people since World War II, from China's Chiang Kai-shek in the 1940s to Richard Nixon in the 1970s. The publication of these two books now is not entirely coincidence: White's personal papers, archived at his alma mater, Harvard, after his 1986 death, were unsealed in 199. Both books make some use of the archives.

Of the two books, Thomas Griffith's is the most narrative, entertaining and enlightening. Griffith, a former editor at both Time and Life, where White once worked, focuses on "Teddy's" tempestuous friendship with his onetime boss, under founder Henry Luce. Griffith's own noted career as an editor is evident in this well. written, smooth volume with interesting, gossipy anecdotes culled from archival sources and interviews with White's family and former colleagues.

Volumes already exist about both Luce and White separately, including White's autobiography in 1978. Griffith's contribution is its focus on the White-Luce relationship, with a constant skeptical and analytical eye on White's well known coziness with his sources, his admiration of power and his journalistic gifts that became less consistent as he aged. And although the book's emphasis is on White's relationship to Luce and his publications, Griffith begins at White's birth and expands beyond the Luce connection, filling in where White's autobiography left off (describing White's final and frustrated efforts in his famed "The Making of the President" series). …

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