A giant in American journalism in the vanguard of "The Greatest Generation" reveals his World War II experiences in this National Geographic book.
Walter Cronkite, an obscure 23-year-old United Press wire service reporter, married Betsy Maxwell on March 30, 1940, following a four-year courtship. She proved to be the love of his life, and their marriage lasted happily until her death, in 2005. But before Walter and Betsy Cronkite celebrated their second anniversary, he became a credentialed war correspondent, preparing to leave her behind to go overseas.
The couple spent months apart in the summer and fall of 1942, as Cronkite sailed on convoys to England and North Africa across the submarine-infested waters of the North Atlantic. After a brief December leave in New York City spent with his young wife, Cronkite left again on assignment for England. This time, the two would not be reunited until the end of the war in Europe.
Cronkite would console himself during their absence by writing her long, detailed letters - sometimes five in a week - describing his experiences as a war correspondent, his observations of life in wartime Europe, and his longing for her. Betsy Cronkite carefully saved the letters, copying many to circulate among family and friends. More than 100 of Cronkite's letters from 1943-45 (plus a few earlier letters) survive. They reveal surprising and little-known facts about this storied public figure in the vanguard of "The Greatest Generation". They chronicle both a great love story and a great war story, as told by the reporter who would go on to become anchorman for the CBS Evening News with a reputation as "the most trusted man in America".
This book was written by Walter Cronkite's grandson Walter Cronkite IV and he does provide some information about his own relationship with his grandfather. The book is mostly a narration overview (with statistics) of WWII, with the reading a bit of letters of Cronkite. Cronkite married Betsy Maxwell on 30 March 1940 then in 1941 he was assigned by United Press to cover the European theatre. At first he traveled on the sea convoys to England and North Africa, he saw ships sunk by the German U boats. He was then assigned to cover the 8th Army Air Corp and at times road along on bombing raids to Germany. He rode in a glider in Operation Market garden. In the letters he told Betsy about problems finding lodging and limited food in London and a bit about the problems of the British people were going through. Over all I was a bit disappointed in the book, from the advertisement I thought it would be more personal about the relationship with his wife and his day to day life as a reporter. The book was mainly an overview of the war emphasizing the parts that Cronkite covered. Unfortunately, no letter from Betsy were kept by Cronkite so they reviewed only his letters. It was worth the read if you are a interested in history. Michael Prichard did a good job with the narration.
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