Gerald W. Johnson: from Southern Liberal to National...

Editor's Choice

May 26, 2002|By Michael Pakenham

Gerald W. Johnson: from Southern Liberal to National Conscience, by Vincent Fitzpatrick (Louisiana State University, 310 pages, $39.95).

Johnson was a towering figure in American journalism and political and literary culture for as astonishing portion of his 90 years on earth, which ended in 1980. His many years writing for The Baltimore Evening Sun distinguished this city and newspaper, but that work was overshadowed by his more than 40 books -- biographies, histories, novels, a children's series. A classic -- if rare -- Southern liberal, he was regarded by his supporters as a heroic conscience, and by die-hard Dixie-ites as a traitor. Fitzpatrick, curator of the H.L. Mencken collection at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, writes with enormous affection and with elegance, scholarship and grace.

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