Joe Alsop's Cold War

A Study of Journalistic Influence and Intrigue

By Edwin M. Yoder Jr.

Joe Alsop's Cold War

248 pp., 6.5 x 9.5, 16 halftones, appends., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5717-5
    Published: January 2011

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No newspaper columnist of the post-World War II period was more widely known than Joseph Wright Alsop, who, with his younger brother Stewart, wrote a thrice-weekly column for the New York Herald Tribune syndicate from early 1946 until 1958. During this period the craft of newspaper commentary stood at the pinnacle of its influence, and the Alsops, widely read by government officials, opinion leaders, and the public, helped shape the policies of the Cold War period. Drawing on his personal acquaintance with Joe Alsop and on manuscript sources and the reminiscences of family, friends, and associates, columnist Edwin Yoder chronicles a colorful and vital era in Washington journalism, framing the story of the Alsops' partnership within the turbulent 1950s. The Alsop brothers, he shows, were not only ultimate Washington insiders but diligent and imaginative reporters who relied on a vast network of sources for news that no one else reported. He combines the story of these two brilliant columnists with the story of a pivotal era in the life of the nation. from the book Now and then the words 'influential' and even 'powerful' are applied to journalists. Both adjectives were freely used, in their time, of both the Alsop brothers. . . . The Alsops thought of themselves primarily as investigative reporters and only secondarily as pundits. Their game, they insisted, was revelation--the fresher the better. One of their many rules was that every column they wrote must offer at least one 'new' fact that no one else had reported; no stand-alone opinionizing was allowed.

Originally published 1995.

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About the Author

A columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group and a professor of journalism and humanities at Washington and Lee University, Edwin M. Yoder, Jr., is the author of The Night of the Old South Ball and The Unmaking of a Whig. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
For more information about Edwin M. Yoder Jr., visit the Author Page.


"[An] engaging and perceptive book. . . . Yoder conveys both [Alsop's] strengths and weaknesses with the clear eyes of a good reporter and the sensitivity of a true friend."--Washington Post Book World

"Joseph W. Alsop was a flamboyant and idiosyncratic cold warrior, as Edwin M. Yoder, Jr. shows in this elegant study."--Journalism History

"Intelligent and engaging. . . . A thoughtful and appreciative memoir of a formidable, irascible, and curiously lovable man."-- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Washington Monthly

"An affectionate and amusing biography, largely focused on the 1950s, of one of the premier columnists of his day."--Foreign Affairs

"Joseph Alsop was a superb columnist. Ed Yoder is one, and has turned a bright light on Alsop's dramatic life at the center of events in a dangerous time. This is a notable contribution to the history of journalism and of this century."--George F. Will

"Edwin M. Yoder writes that this book 'aims to be history with a biographical flavor.' It is that, but also much more. It is a superb biography, suffused with a historical essence. That essence is both precise and rich--an unusual combination. The result is an extraordinarily well-written book, surpassing the above, modestly stated, aims of its author."--John Lukacs