Ben Robertson
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In Ben Robertson: South Carolina Journalist and Author, Jodie Peeler tells the story of a man consumed with a need to see the world but whose heart never really left home. Drawing heavily on Robertson's writings and personal papers, Peeler describes his active career as a journalist, which took him to Hawaii, Australia, Europe, Java, New York, and Washington, D.C.

The early years of Robertson's career were spent as a reporter for the New York Herald-Tribune. After several years as a freelance writer, he became a World War II correspondent covering England for the New York newspaper PM. While Robertson's wartime dispatches drew attention and praise, they represented but one aspect of the man's wide-ranging works and career, for the Ben Robertson who witnessed destruction and heroism in the fires of London was also a proud son of South Carolina.

In addition to his work as a journalist. Robertson wrote three books. Travelers' Rest, a fictionalized account of his ancestors' settling in South Carolina, ruffled southern feathers. In I Saw England he presents a firsthand account of the Battle of Britain and advocates for the United States to intervene in World War II. His heartfelt memoir, Red Hills and Cotton, which recalls his boyhood days in Pickens County and calls for the South to look to the future, became a southern classic. In 1943, while en route to his new job as London bureau chief for the New York Herald-Tribune, Robertson lost his life in a plane crash.

Throughout his decidedly brief but adventurous life, Robertson never stopped being what one friend described as "a sentimental South Carolinian who carried his dreams on the tip of his tongue." And over time he evolved into a progressive voice calling on the South to reevaluate its attitudes on race and economics. This is the story of that proud South Carolinian, from the dreams that propelled him around the world to the sentiment that always called him home.



Publié par
Date de parution 30 octobre 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781643360249
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


South Carolina Journalist and Author
2019 Jodie Peeler
Published by the University of South Carolina Press
Columbia, South Carolina 29208
28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data can be found at .
ISBN 978-1-64336-023-2 (hardback)
ISBN 978-1-64336-024-9 (ebook)
Front cover design by Brock Henderson
List of Illustrations
Chapter 1
American Pilgrims
Chapter 2
A Childhood in the Red Hills
Chapter 3
An Education
Chapter 4
In Exile
Chapter 5
The Hope of the Herald Tribune
Chapter 6
Hitting at Windmills
Chapter 7
A Vague, Confused Plan
Chapter 8
A Literary Gale
Chapter 9
A New South
Chapter 10
My God, what a war!
Chapter 11
London Is Burning
Chapter 12
What are we going to do about it?
Chapter 13
The Advocate
Chapter 14
Humble Times for Eagles
Chapter 15
A Southern Record
Chapter 16
Cynical Men
Chapter 17
Trip 9035
Chapter 18
An Upcountry Legacy
Ben Robertson, Clemson cadet
Enjoying pineapple with friends on an adventure in the Pacific
Ben Robertson of the Herald Tribune
With Dr. John Lane
With Robert Neville and Merle Sproul
London correspondent for PM
Visiting the Taj Mahal in 1942
The war correspondent back home between assignments
Ben s sister Mary prepares to christen the SS Ben Robertson
Friends and relatives at the launching of the SS Ben Robertson
This book is the end of a long journey. For almost two decades Ben Robertson has been in my life, in some form or another. Although I knew of him from his association with Edward R. Murrow, it wasn t until I was a graduate student at the University of South Carolina s journalism school that I really started researching the man himself. Eventually my efforts attracted the attention of Tom Poland, who had come across some of my work on Ben Robertson. Out of our conversations, and with his encouragement, I became interested again in the idea. It has taken a long time for this book to finally happen, but in a way I m grateful for the delay. The years have given me a perspective I didn t have as a young graduate student and have opened up many marvelous sources of information I didn t have back then. Tom, for getting me interested again, for reminding me how much fun Ben Robertson was to research, and for convincing me to turn someday into now, thank you.
I should begin where it all began, by thanking all those at the University of South Carolina, both in the J-school and in the History Department, who taught me through classwork and example the scholar s trade. I owe particular thanks to Dr. Rick Stephens, Dr. Kenneth Campbell, and Dr. Lacy Ford. I often think of my years in the J-school, where I was surrounded by a multitude of wonderful classmates and some of the best teachers and staff I could have had, as one of the happiest times in my life. To all of you who were part of that, I am grateful. And to the professors and instructors who taught me when I was in USC s graduate history program, and during my undergraduate days at Lander University, I thank all of you as well. I particularly want to thank my always cheerful and encouraging mentor at Lander, Dr. Robert Figueira, who taught me how wonderful it can be to practice the historian s craft. I also thank Dr. Marvin Cann, whose courses in Southern history taught me so much about the region that is my home, and Dr. Robert Stevenson, whose journalism courses helped me strengthen my love for the reporter s trade and reminded me what a privilege it is to be a journalist.
The first and most important stop for anyone studying Ben Robertson is the Special Collections unit of the Clemson University Library, where the papers of Robertson and others vital to his story are now housed. Over the years, whether doing research in person or requesting documents from far away, I have asked much of Special Collections. Always, they came through, and always with kindness. Thank you not only for your help to me, but for the opportunities you provided me to see and touch the remnants of Ben Robertson s story.
I thank as well the staff of the Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina, who retrieved obscure microfilm reels and bound periodicals from storage for me, helped me during endless scanning sessions, and made my task easier in at least a dozen ways. The South Caroliniana Library of the University of South Carolina, where the Narcissa Clayton Papers are held, also provided kind assistance. I also thank the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, where the Alfred A. Knopf papers now reside, for its help from far away.
I am grateful to Clemson s Special Collections unit for permission to quote from the Ben Robertson Papers, the John Dewey Lane Papers, the William Wright Bryan Papers, and the B. O. Williams Papers, and for permission to use the photographs presented in this book. I am also thankful to the Harry Ransom Center for permission to quote from the Knopf Papers, and to the South Caroliniana Library for permission to quote from the Narcissa Clayton Papers.
Nathania K. Sawyer cheerfully shared with me her work and expertise on Harry Ashmore, and I hope she will soon turn her excellent research into a much-needed biography of a fascinating and forward-thinking man. Dianne Luce generously shared her examination of Red Hills and Cotton , which helped me better understand the book as a work of literature. I also thank A.R. Hogan, who has always had an encouraging word for me even as he has worked on incredible research endeavors of his own. And as with so many things in my life, I thank Rob Sherry, my trusted associate and general counsel.
There have been countless other people along the way who have helped. A complete list would be a chapter in its own right, but to those of you who helped in any way, large or small, I hope you realize how thankful I am.
I could not have completed this book without the support of Newberry College, which granted me the sabbatical leave I needed to complete this project. In particular, I thank our college s dean, Timothy Elston; my department chair, Patrick Gagliano; and my colleagues in the Communications program, Al de Lachica, Cayci Banks, and Larry Cameron, who ably kept things going while I was away. To the many colleagues who offered kind words while I was on sabbatical, thank you very much for your encouragement. I also thank my students for their patience during my absence, and for their support. You may not realize just how much that has meant to me, dear students, but it has reminded me why I love having you in my life, and why you so often make me believe I have the best job in the world.
Nor could I have done this without the support of my family. Even if they couldn t figure out more than 20 years ago why I was going on to graduate school, they supported and encouraged me in countless ways large and small. In their way, they helped me understand Ben Robertson. The values of honesty and decency and respect he was taught as a child, the virtues he praised in Red Hills and Cotton , were the same my family raised me with in my own rural childhood not so far from where Ben Robertson grew up. As his family did with him, you taught me about honor and things I should know. I love you.
The closest and most meaningful support has been from my husband, Ralph Nardone. He has been with me since this project was a pile of notes and source documents trying to become a dissertation. Both then and now Ralph has listened, encouraged, counseled, kept me steady, and has always reminded me that I am loved. I have also appreciated the guidance of my most trusted editorial assistants, Junior the Mighty Tiger and Smokey the Mountain Lion, who have always remained close at hand (and competed for my attention throughout this project). The three of you, and now Gilda too, are the world to me.
There s one more person who deserves particular thanks. More than two decades ago, when I began my graduate studies in USC s history program, I felt out of place, that I didn t have what it took. I thought about quitting. One afternoon that first semester, the professor who served as my adviser heard me out, talked me through my fears, and encouraged me to not give up. I don t know if John Scott Wilson ever knew before he passed away what a difference that conversation made, but I have never forgotten how he helped make possible everything that has happened since. He lives on each and every time I talk a student through a crisis, as he talked me through mine that day in 1996. Dr. Wilson, thank you.
I have saved two acknowledgments for last, to two people whose example made me a better educator and a better person. I first knew Dr. Henry Price when he served on my master s thesis committee. He refused to let me get by with any sort of intellectual or stylistic laziness, and he is without question the toughest editor with whom I will ever work. However painful the review process might have been, he encouraged me to do better because he knew I could do better. Out of it came not only a much stronger finished product, but a mutual respect. When he hired me as his graduate assistant the following semester, I learned as much from him as his students did. From Dr. Price I learned how to hold students to a higher standard, to lead them to be be

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