Cronkite's War: His World War II Letters Home

Cronkite's War: His World War II Letters Home


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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 a hundred 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" and a giant in American journalism, and about his World War II experiences. 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."

Illustrated with heartwarming photos of Walter and Betsy Cronkite during the war from the family collection, the book is edited by Cronkite's grandson, CBS associate producer Walter Cronkite IV, and esteemed historian Maurice Isserman, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of History at Hamilton College.

Now this historical portrait is new in paperback.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426210198
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Publication date: 05/07/2013
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 676,233
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

WALTER CRONKITE IV is an associate producer with CBS News. 

MAURICE ISSERMAN is the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of History at Hamilton College.
His most recent book is the prize-winning Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes, co-written with Stewart Weaver, which the New York Times called "the book of a awe-inspiring work of history and storytelling."

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Foreword Tom Brokaw xi

Map: Walter Cronkite's World War II Assignments xiv

Character Key xvii

Introduction Walter Cronkite IV xxv

Chapter 1 A Pretty Personal Matter 1

Chapter 2 The Writing Sixty-Ninth 11

Chapter 3 The Youthful Dean of American Air-War Writers 79

Chapter 4 Invasion Jitters 143

Chapter 5 Once This War Is Over 201

Epilogue Maurice Isserman 289

Afterword Walter Cronkite IV 303

Time Line 309

Acknowledgments 311

Select Bibliography 313

Illustrations Credits 314

Index 315

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"What a treasure! If you like the news, if you like a good adventure story or if you're just a sucker for a good old fashioned love story, you will love this book." —Bob Schieffer, CBS News

"The immediacy of these letters provides an unforgettable glimpse into how people lived during the most devastating war in human history, and shed light on how Walter Cronkite became one of our greatest newsmen." —Susan Eisenhower

"An extraordinary journey with the most trusted man in America." —Kirkus Reviews

Customer Reviews

Cronkite's War: His World War II Letters Home 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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HuskerFanBL More than 1 year ago
For anyone who admires Walter Cronkite this is required reading. It's full of vivid descriptions and great detail of the war, England, it's people and his love for his wife, Betsy. It's remarkable that the letters were saved and could be put into book form.
Dori_in_Wyoming More than 1 year ago
I have always been a bit of a WW II buff, so this was an easy decision to purchase. It offers an interesting view of the war, the people of England, and the Americans who served there. Cronkite, always a talented observer, shared many experiences in detail, in his letters home. It's a great read.
FluffyOH More than 1 year ago
Format is excellent and composition was well thought out. I guess it was probably just me and my expectation of the Cronkite I watched on the news.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like history and are a fan of Walter Cronkite, this is the book for you! It gives you a first hand view of his experiences during World War II--the personal as well as professional. As a woman, I especially related to his messages to his beloved wife, Betsy, who he missed dearly. The letters capture his loneliness and yearnings to be reunited.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shown on the far left is my grandfather, Ceibert C. Bragg, who joined the Army Air Corp as a gunner/engineer on a Martin Marauder B-26 as a member of the 454th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group. The B-26 crew in the photo flew Walter Cronkite on the "U.S.O." plane the day the photo was taken; however, they were a relief crew whose primary aircraft was "Honest Injun" which flew in the third wave of the invasion of Normandy. During an aerial engagement, my grandfather's plane was attacked by two Messerschmitt fighters; he engaged both and was credited for destroying one. For his actions, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 9 clusters and numerous other recognitions. After 63 combat missions, he entered pilot training and was released upon cessation of hostilities. He reenlisted after discharge and served during the Korean War. He retired as a Master Sergeant after 21 years military service in 1963. My grandfather passed away on May 22, 2011 just shy of his 90th birthday. He was a hero from the greatest generation. God speed.