Ronald Kidd - April 22, 2022

Capsule Reviews

Last Call at the Hotel Imperial

What a strange book.

The subject is irresistible: a group biography of John Gunther, Dorothy Thompson, H. R. Knickerbocker, and Vincent Sheean, four icons of journalism who roamed Europe to create and hone the role of foreign correspondent before, during, and after World War II.

In a brilliant prologue, author Deborah Cohen offers a preview of this gripping, all-important period of history as we’ve rarely seen it, through the eyes and words of the talented quartet, journalists who didn’t just report events but tried to reach beyond facts to something like the truth. Sometimes they succeeded, other times not, but their efforts were rarely less than heroic.

The book delivers on that promise, and more. The problem is the more.

Two-thirds of the narrative is the fascinating, sometimes riveting story of their adventures and reports. But the remaining third focuses on their sex lives, in great detail. He was sleeping with her. She was sleeping with him. She was sleeping with her, and he with him.

Do we care? We do not. 

Obviously sex was part of their lives. It affected their work and their relationships, so it’s legitimate to include. But do we really need to know who was having orgasms and who wasn’t?

What a shame. Deborah Cohen is a fine writer, and she has found a great subject. In exploring it, she has written two-thirds of a very good book.

Shown above: John Gunther, Hungarian correspondent Marcel Fodor, Marie Fodor, Frances Gunther, Dorothy Thompson, Thompsons husband Sinclair Lewis (Vienna, 1930)

Now Available

  • Lord of the Mountain
    The “big bang” of country music in 1927 at Bristol, Tennessee.
    Read more
  • Room of Shadows
    Edgar Allan Poe returns and gets the glorious death he deserved.
    Read more
Learn about my books, plays, and music at
Download a sampler of chapters from some of my latest books.

Copyright © 2022 Ronald Kidd, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp