Armed With Words: D.D. Guttenplan's The Life and Times of I.F. Stone

A new biography examines the career of one of journalism's great crusaders

A sober skepticism: Izzy Stone
Celia Gilbert, Family Collection
A sober skepticism: Izzy Stone


American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone
By D.D. Guttenplan
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 570 pp., $35

The more interesting question raised in American Radical, however, has less to do with Stone's patriotism than with his inspiration. Guttenplan holds that, shorn of his radical roots and inclinations, Stone's masterful investigative swordplay would amount to little more than a reporter with a high batting average. Maybe so. But Stone was always more independent than radical. That streak was on display in his post-Weekly career, when he wrote a devastating 1972 series for The New York Review of Books about the perverted use of Soviet psychiatry to suppress dissent. In the end, his sober skepticism and relentless drive for truth-telling were far more useful and reliable guides than any ideology. And those lighthouses usually shine a path straight to the downtrodden and the underdogs anyway. You don't even need a map.

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