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John Gunther (August 30, 1901 – May 29, 1970) was an
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or A ...
journalist and author. His success came primarily by a series of popular sociopolitical works, known as the "Inside" books (1936–1972), including the best-selling '' Inside U.S.A.'' in 1947. However, he is now best known for his memoir '' Death Be Not Proud'', on the death of his teenage son, Johnny Gunther, from a
brain tumor A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form within the brain A brain is an organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on ...
.


Life

Gunther was born in 1901 in the Lakeview district of
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...

Chicago
and grew up on the North Side of the city. He was the first child of a
German-American German Americans (german: Deutschamerikaner, ) are Americans Americans are the citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. ...
family: his father was Eugene Guenther, a traveling salesman, and his mother was Lizette Schoeninger Guenther. During
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, the family changed the spelling of its name from Guenther to Gunther to avoid having an obviously-German name. In 1922, he was awarded a
Bachelor of Philosophy Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil, BPh, or PhB; la, Baccalaureus Philosophiae or ) is the title of an academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usua ...
from the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an abse ...
, where he was literary editor of the student paper. He worked briefly in the city as a reporter for the ''
Chicago Daily News The ''Chicago Daily News'' was an afternoon daily newspaper in the midwestern United States, published between 1875 and 1978 in Chicago, Illinois. History The ''Daily News'' was founded by Melville E. Stone, Percy Meggy, and William Dougherty ...
'', but he soon moved to Europe to be a correspondent with the ''Daily News''
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
bureau, where he covered
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
, the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
, and the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
. Gunther met Frances Fineman in London in 1925 and the two were married in 1927. Until 1936, they worked together (Frances as a foreign correspondent for London's ''
News Chronicle The ''News Chronicle'' was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United ...
'') throughout
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
. Gunther wrote, "I was at one time or another in charge of ''Daily News'' offices in London,
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...

Berlin
,
Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, national capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of cities and towns in Austria, mos ...

Vienna
,
Moscow Moscow ( , American English, US chiefly ; rus, links=no, Москва, r=Moskva, p=mɐˈskva, a=Москва.ogg) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Russia by population, largest city of Russia. The city stands on the ...

Moscow
,
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Rome
, and
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
, and I also visited
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
,
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Spain
, the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
, and
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Province * Sami District, Gambia * Sami, Cephalonia, a municipality in Greece * Sami (ancient city), in Elis, Greece * Sa ...

Scandinavia
. I have worked in every European country except
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
. I saw at first hand the whole extraordinary panorama of Europe from 1924 to 1936." In Vienna, Gunther worked alongside a group of English-speaking
central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

central Europe
an correspondents that included Marcel Fodor,
Dorothy Thompson Dorothy Celene Thompson (July 9, 1893 – January 30, 1961) was an American journalist and radio broadcaster. She was the first American journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany in 1934 and was one of the few women news commentators on radio ...
,
Robert Best
Robert Best
, and
George Eric Rowe Gedye (George) Eric Rowe Gedye (born 27 May 1890 in Clevedon, Somerset; died 21 March 1970), often cited as G. E. R. Gedye, was a British journalist- foreign correspondent for eminent British and American newspapers- author and intelligence o ...
. Gunther later described those years as
the bubbling, blazing days of American foreign correspondence in Europe. ... Most of us traveled steadily, met constantly, exchanged information, caroused, took in each other's washing, and, even when most fiercely competitive, were devoted friends. ... We were scavengers, buzzards, out to get the news, no matter whose wings got clipped.
According to
Michael Bloch Michael Anthony Bloch (born 24 September 1953) is an author and historian. Educated at Portadown College and St John's College, Cambridge, he was call to the bar, called to the bar by the Inner Temple in 1978 and in 1979 became an assistant to ...
, Gunther enjoyed a same-sex relationship in the 1930s in Vienna with the future
Leader of the British Labour Party The Leader of the Labour Party is the head of the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party of the United Kingdom. The incumbent is Keir Starmer, who was elected in 2020 Labour Party leadership election (UK), April 2020 to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, having previ ...
,
Hugh Gaitskell Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell (9 April 1906 – 18 January 1963) was a British politician who served as Leader of the British Labour Party The Leader of the Labour Party is the head of the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party of the United Kingdom. ...
. Gunther's experiences as a journalist in interwar Vienna formed the basis for his novel ''The Lost City''. His research and the contacts that Gunther developed as a reporter also led directly to the first of the ''Inside'' books, ''Inside Europe'', which was intended by Gunther to summarize the European political situation for the general reader. With the success of the ''Inside'' books starting in the late 1930s, Gunther resigned his position to devote his full-time to the books. During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, he worked as a
war correspondent A war correspondent is a journalist A journalist is an individual trained to collect/gather information in form of text, audio or pictures, processes them to a news-worthy form and disseminates it to the public. The act or process mainly done ...
in Europe. The Gunthers had two children: Judy, who died in 1929 before the age of 1, and John, Jr. (Johnny), who was born in 1929 and died in 1947 of a brain tumor. The Gunthers divorced in 1944. Gunther married Jane Perry Vandercook in 1948; the two adopted a son. Mrs. Jane P. Gunther, a devoted student of the arts who accompanied her husband on his voyages and contributed to his books, was born in August 1916. She died in New York City, on May 22, 2020, at the age of 103. She had been widowed for a week shy of half a century. Gunther died of
liver cancer Liver cancer (also known as hepatic cancer, primary hepatic cancer, or primary hepatic malignancy) is cancer Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. ...
in 1970.


Writings


''Inside'' series

The books that made Gunther famous in his time were the "Inside" series of continental surveys. For each book, Gunther traveled extensively through the area the book covered, interviewed political, social, and business leaders; talked with average people; reviewed area statistics; and then wrote a lengthy overview of what he had learned and how he interpreted it. About ''Inside Europe'' (published in 1936), Gunther wrote, "This book has had a striking success all over the world. I was fortunate in that it appeared at just the right time, when the three
totalitarian Totalitarianism is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthl ...

totalitarian
dictators took the stage and people began to be vitally interested in them." In 1947, Gunther tackled '' Inside U.S.A.'', visiting all 48 states. On the 50th anniversary of the book's publication, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., appraised the book and its impact:
This book, now half a century old, is an astonishing
tour de force Tour de Force may refer to: * Tour de Force (film), ''Tour de Force'' (film), a 2014 German film * Tour De Force (tour), 1986 Elton John concert tour * Tour de Force (Sonny Rollins album), ''Tour de Force'' (Sonny Rollins album), 1956 * Tour de Forc ...
. It presents a shrewd, fast-moving, sparkling panorama of the United States at this historic moment of apparent triumph.
Sinclair Lewis Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American writer and playwright A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play ( ...

Sinclair Lewis
called it "the richest treasure-house of facts about America that has ever been published, and probably the most spirited and interesting." At the same time, in its preoccupations and insights ''Inside U.S.A.'' foresaw dilemmas and paradoxes that were to harass and frustrate Americans for the rest of the century.
The ''Inside'' series grew to include volumes covering all populated continents: ''Inside Europe'', ''Inside U.S.A.'', ''Inside Asia'', ''Inside Latin America'', ''Inside Africa'', ''Inside Russia Today'', and, finally, ''Inside Australia and New Zealand'' (with W. H. Forbis). Several of the volumes were issued multiple times in updated and revised editions over the years, as world events demanded. ''Inside Africa'' proved particularly well-timed as a historical record. During 1952-53 Gunther and his wife visited nearly all forty-four African political entities then in existence during what was to prove the final stage of mainly
colonial rule Colonialism is a practice or policy of control by one people or power over other people or areas, often by establishing colony, colonies and generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose the ...
.


Other nonfiction and fiction works

In addition to the "Inside" series and related volumes, Gunther wrote eight novels and three
biographies A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person's experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or c ...

biographies
. The most notable of them are ''Bright Nemesis'', ''The Troubled Midnight'', ''Roosevelt in Retrospect'' (published in 1950) and ''Eisenhower'', a biography of the famous general released in 1952, the year that
Dwight Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. In its broadest sense, the term ...
was elected
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a chief executive officer ...

President
. In addition, Gunther published several books for young readers, including a biography of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
in 1953, and ''Meet Soviet Russia'', a two-volume adaptation of ''Inside Russia Today'' in 1962.


''Death Be Not Proud''

The book for which Gunther is best remembered today, however, does not deal with politics. '' Death Be Not Proud'' is the story of his son, Johnny, who died of a
brain tumor A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form within the brain A brain is an organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on ...
at the age of 17. In the book, "a restrained and moving work intended for family and friends," the elder Gunther details the struggles that he and his ex-wife, Frances Fineman, had gone through in attempting to save their son's life, the many treatments pursued (everything from radical surgery to strictly-controlled diet), the ups and downs of apparent remission and eventual relapse, and the strain that it placed on all three of them. Gunther portrays his son as a remarkable young man, who had corresponded intelligently with
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity The theo ...

Albert Einstein
about physics. The book became a bestseller, and in 1975, it was made into an
Emmy The Emmy Awards, or Emmys, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the television industry. It is considered one of the four major entertainment awards in the United States, the others being the Grammy The Grammy Award (stylized ...

Emmy
-nominated
television movie A television film is a feature-lengthIn Internet marketing, online marketing, a landing page, sometimes known as a "lead capture page","single property page", "static page", "squeeze page" or a "destination page", is a single web page that appe ...
, starring Arthur Hill as John Gunther,
Jane Alexander Jane Alexander (née Quigley) is an American actress and author. She is the recipient of two Primetime Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, and nominations for four Academy Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards. From 1993 to 1997, Alexander served as the ...

Jane Alexander
as his wife, and
Robby Benson Robby Benson (born Robin David Segal; January 21, 1956) is an American actor, singer, composer, teacher, and filmmaker. He rose to prominence as a teen idol in the late 1970s, appearing in the sports films ''One on One (1977 film), One on One'' ...
as Johnny. It remains a staple of many high-school curricula.


Other media


Broadway: ''Inside U.S.A.''

''Inside U.S.A.'' was made into a
Broadway Broadway may refer to: Theatre * Broadway Theatre (disambiguation) * Broadway theatre, theatrical productions in professional theatres near Broadway, Manhattan, New York City, U.S. ** Broadway (Manhattan), the street **Broadway Theatre (53rd St ...
revue A revue is a type of multi-act popular theatrical Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a li ...

revue
, also titled '' Inside U.S.A.'', in 1948, with songs by
Howard Dietz Howard Dietz (September 8, 1896 – July 30, 1983) was an American publicist, lyricist, and Libretto, librettist, best remembered for his songwriting collaboration with Arthur Schwartz. Biography Dietz was born in New York City, United States. He ...
and
Arthur Schwartz Arthur Schwartz (November 25, 1900 – September 3, 1984) was an American composer and film producer, widely noted for his songwriting collaborations with Howard Dietz. Biography Early life Schwartz was born in Brooklyn, New York City, on Nove ...
. The production starred, among others,
Beatrice Lillie Beatrice Gladys Lillie (29 May 1894 – 20 January 1989), known as Bea Lillie, was a Canadian-born British actress, singer and comedic performer. She began to perform as a child with her mother and sister. She made her West End West End most ...

Beatrice Lillie
and
Jack Haley John Joseph Haley Jr. (August 10, 1897 – June 6, 1979) was an American actor, comedian, dancer, radio host, singer and vaudevillian. He was best known for his portrayal of the Tin Man and his farmhand counterpart Hickory in the 1939 Metro-Go ...
and played for 399 performances.


Television – ''High Road''

From September 7, 1959, until September 17, 1960, Gunther was host and narrator of a television program on the ABC network entitled ''John Gunther's High Road''. It originally aired Monday nights at 8:30, but soon switched to Saturday night at 8 p.m., immediately following the
Dick Clark Richard Wagstaff Clark (November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012) was an American radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency betwe ...

Dick Clark
variety show. The ''High Road'' program consisted of travelogues of various nations around the world. Some of the films were produced especially for this program and others were obtained from other sources. The common thread of all episodes was Gunther's narration, although he had little or nothing to do with the actual content.Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, ''The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946 to'' ''the Present'', eighth edition, copyright 2003,
Ballantine Books Ballantine Books is a major book publisher Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and dist ...
, page 616.


List of works


Nonfiction

* (1934) ''Habsburgs Again?'' * (1936) ''Inside Europe'' * (1938 ed) ''Inside Europe'' (includes minor updates) * (1939 ed) ''Inside Europe'' (includes minor updates) * (1939) ''The High Cost of Hitler'' * (1939) ''Inside Asia'' * (1940 ed) ''Inside Europe'' (includes major additions and changes due to the geopolitical impacts of
Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...
and
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
) * (1941) ''Inside Latin America'' * (1944) ''D-Day'' * (1947) '' Inside U.S.A.'' * (1949) '' Death Be Not Proud'', memoir * (1949) ''Behind the Curtain'' (published in the UK as ''Behind Europe's Curtain'') * (1950) ''Roosevelt in Retrospect: A Profile in History'', biography * (1951) ''The Riddle of MacArthur: Japan, Korea, and the Far East'' * (1952) ''Eisenhower, the Man and the Symbol'', biography * (1953) ''Alexander the Great'', biography * (1955) ''Inside Africa'' * (1956) ''Days to Remember: America 1945-1955'' (with Bernard Quint) * (1958) ''Inside Russia Today'' * (1959) ''Julius Caesar'' * (1960) ''Taken at the Flood: The Story of Albert D. Lasker'', biography * (1961) ''Inside Europe Today'' * (1961) ''A Fragment of Autobiography: The Fun of Writing the Inside Books'' * (1962) ''Meet Soviet Russia'' (2 volumes) * (1965) ''Procession'' * (1967) ''Inside South America'' * (1969) ''Twelve Cities'' * (1972) ''John Gunther's Inside Australia and New Zealand'' (with W. H. Forbis)


Novels

* (1926) ''The Red Pavilion'' * (1927) ''Peter Lancelot: An Amusement'' (published in the U.S. as ''Eden for One: An Amusement'') * (1929) ''The Golden Fleece'' * (1932) ''Bright Nemesis'' * (1945) ''The Troubled Midnight'' * (1964) ''The Lost City'' * (1970) ''The Indian Sign'' (published in the UK as ''Quatrain'')


Further reading

* Cuthbertson, Ken (1992) ''Inside: The Biography of John Gunther''. Bonus Books. * Hamilton, John M. (2009) ''Journalism's Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting''. Louisiana State University Press.


References


External links

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Gunther, John 1901 births 1970 deaths American people of German descent 20th-century American novelists 20th-century American memoirists American male novelists American political writers
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Chicago Daily News people Writers from Chicago Journalists from Illinois Viennese interwar correspondents
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Novelists from Illinois
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