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WORLD WAR II ON THE AIR: Hear Edward R. Murrow and the Voices that Carried the War Home

Mark Bernstein, Author, Alex Lubertozzi, Joint Author, Dan Rather, Narrated by
Mark Bernstein, Author, Alex Lubertozzi, Joint Author, Dan Rather, Narrated by . Sourcebooks $29.95 (284p) ISBN 978-1-4022-0026-7
Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-4022-0247-6
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With all the "embedded" hoopla, this informative and absorbing study of Edward R. Murrow and his fellow broadcasters at CBS gets back to sources. Bernstein (Grand Eccentrics) and Lubertozzi (The Complete War of the Worlds) give them the lion's share of the credit for inventing broadcast journalism during WWII, and they also document a formidable track record. Murrow himself was first on the scene, in prewar England and later the blitz. He appointed men like William Shirer, in Berlin, and Eric Sevareid, in France, to expand coverage, so that CBS was well positioned when the other radio networks ended European coverage in fear of violating the neutrality act. Sevareid had to get both himself and his wife and newborn twins out of a defeated France, while Shirer was replaced by Howard K. Smith, who barely got over the Swiss border at the time of Pearl Harbor. Less famous names include Larry LeSueur, who spent a year battling shortages, climate and censorship in Stalin's Russia, and Cecil Brown, who swam away from a sinking British warship. "Murrow's boys" (and one woman) also encountered conflicts with the "suits" in New York, including William Paley, president of CBS, and wrestled with the limitations of tape recorders and short-wave transmitters whose technology now seems neolithic. The narrative offers clear journalistic prose throughout, along with 72 well-selected photographs and a 47-track audio CD excerpting significant broadcasts. The authors' handling of the incidents the broadcasters were covering is above-average, backed by CD excerpts of broadcasts on the Anschluss, the invasion of Poland, the blitz, D-Day, the liberation of Buchenwald among other major events. The result is admirable history. 50,000 first printing. (May)

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