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American Radical

A biography of the journalist who believed he could change the world.

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He was an activist, a radical – an impassioned, indefatigable, zealous idealist – in short, a man who believed that if he tried hard enough he could change the world. Twenty years after I.F. Stone’s death, D.D. Guttenplan offers American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone, an admiring biography that, fortunately, does not slide into hagiography.

It has only been three years since Myra MacPherson also published an admiring, high-quality Stone biography (“All Governments Lie!: The Life and Times of a Rebel Journalist.”) These two recent biographies of Stone (plus two others since his death) and an accessible anthology (“The Best of I.F. Stone,” 2006) provide a composite view of a journalist whose importance – especially during the current realm of government and corporate corruption and secrecy – cannot be overestimated.

Stone’s close reading of public, but often ignored, government documents as the foundation for his investigative journalism has influenced countless journalists and other researchers.

Born in 1907 and reared primarily in the Philadelphia area, Stone began writing about truth and justice as a teenager. As he matured, his newspaper reporting, magazine writing, book authorship, and public speaking helped to create a well-informed public. But his influence did not reach its zenith until the 18-year period from 1953 through 1971, when his self-published, modest-looking newsletter, I.F. Stone’s Weekly, made an unlikely impact across the nation, with an outsized impact on policymakers in Washington, D.C.

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