In the decades between the Great Depression and the advent of cable television, when daily newspapers set the conversational agenda in the United States, the best reporter in the business was a rumpled, unassuming figure named Homer Bigart. Despite two Pulitzers and a host of other prizes, he quickly faded from public view after retirement. Few today know the extent to which he was esteemed by his peers.
Get the Damn Story: Homer Bigart and the Great Age of American Newspapers (Georgetown UP, 2023) is the first comprehensive biography to encompass all of Bigart’s journalism, including both his war reporting and coverage of domestic events. Writing for the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times, Bigart brought to life many events that defined the era—the wars in Europe, the Pacific, Korea, and Vietnam; the civil rights movement; the creation of Israel; the end of colonialism in Africa; and the Cuban Revolution. Bigart’s career demonstrates the value to a democratic society of a relentless, inquiring mind examining its institutions and the people who run them.
James Kates is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has worked as an editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other publications.