This collection—harvest of a lifetime of brilliant reportage and reflection—brings together the most memorable biographical pieces John Hersey has written over the past fifty years. His subjects range from Sinclair Lewis, for whom the twenty-three-year-old Hersey was secretary, and the young John F. Kennedy as he related to Hersey the dramatic story of PT 109, to Private John Daniel Ramey and his efforts to overcome illiteracy with the help of the U.S. Army, and Jessica Kelley, an elderly widow trapped in a buckling tenement as the 1955 Connecticut floods raged outside.
Whether describing a brisk morning stroll with President Truman or hours spent fishing for blues with Lillian Hellman, recounting Benjamin Weintraub’s harrowing escape from a Nazi death camp or Varsell Pleas’s dangerous struggle for voting rights in the Mississippi of 1964, Hersey brings us face to face with some of the extraordinary events and people of the past half century. And it is with his profoundly curious and sympathetic mind and unsurpassed journalistic eloquence that he brings each startlingly to life.
“The skill that won Hersey a Pulitzer Prize in 1945 is more than evident… an important collection of lives and their lessons.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Any reader not already a fan of Hersey’s will be swayed by the richness of this collection. Hersey’s legion of admirers will merely be gratified and moved again and again…The cumulative force of these essays is amazing.” –Kirkus Reviews