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John Gunther (August 30, 1901 – May 29, 1970) was an American journalist and author whose success came primarily in the 1940s and 1950s with a series of popular sociopolitical works known as the "Inside" books. He is best known today for the memoir Death Be Not Proud about the death of his teenage son, Johnny Gunther, from a brain tumor.


Personal life

Gunther grew up in Chicago and attended the University of Chicago, where he was literary editor of the student paper.

From 1924 to 1936, Gunther was assigned to the London bureau of the Chicago Daily News. Gunther writes, "I was at one time or another in charge of Daily News offices in London, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, Rome, and Paris, and I also visited Poland, Spain, the Balkans, and Scandinavia. I have worked in every European country except Portugal. I saw at first hand the whole extraordinary panorama of Europe from 1924 to 1936."[1]


The books that made Gunther famous in his time were the "Inside" series of continental surveys. For each book, Gunther traveled extensively through the area the book covered, interviewed political, social, and business leaders, talked with average people, reviewed area statistics, and then wrote a lengthy overview of what he had learned and how he interpreted it.

About Inside Europe (published in 1936), Gunther wrote, "This book has had a striking success all over the world. I was fortunate in that it appeared at just the right time, when the three totalitarian dictators took the stage and people began to be vitally interested in them."

In addition to the "Inside" series, Gunther wrote eight novels and three biographies, most notably Bright Nemesis, The Troubled Midnight, Roosevelt in Retrospect (published in 1950) and Eisenhower, a biography of the famous general released in 1952, the year Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President. In addition, he published several books for young readers, including a biography of Alexander the Great in 1953, and Meet Soviet Russia, a two-volume adaptation of Inside Russia Today in 1962.

The book for which Gunther is best remembered today, however, does not deal with the intrigues of politics: Death Be Not Proud is the story of his son, Johnny, who died of a brain tumor at the age of 17. In the book, the elder Gunther details the struggles that he and his ex-wife went through in attempting to save their son's life: the many treatments pursued (everything from radical surgery to strictly controlled diet), the ups and downs of apparent remission and eventual relapse, and the strain it placed on all three of them. Gunther portrays his son as a remarkable young man – he corresponded intelligently with Albert Einstein about physics – and the heartbreak of his death is told so movingly by Gunther that the book became a best-seller, and in 1975 was made into an Emmy-nominated television movie starring Arthur Hill as John Gunther, Jane Alexander as his wife, and Robby Benson as Johnny. It is a staple of many high-school curricula to this day.

Inside U.S.A. was made into a Broadway revue in 1948, with songs by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz. The production starred, among others, Beatrice Lillie and Jack Haley. It played for 399 performances. [2]

High Road

From September 7, 1959 until September 17, 1960, Gunther was host and narrator of a television program on the ABC network entitled "John Gunther's High Road". It originally aired Monday nights at 8:30, but soon switched to Saturday night at 8 p.m., immediately following the Dick Clark variety show. The High Road program consisted of traveloges of various nations around the world. Some of the films were produced especially for this program and others were obtained from other sources. The common thread of all episodes was Gunther's narration, although he had little or nothing to do with the actual content.[3]

List of works



  • (1936) Inside Europe
  • (1938 ed) Inside Europe (includes minor updates)
  • (1939 ed) Inside Europe (includes minor updates)
  • (1939) The High Cost of Hitler
  • (1939) Inside Asia
  • (1940 ed) Inside Europe (includes major additions and changes due to the geopolitical impacts of Hitler and Nazi Germany)
  • (1941) Inside Latin America
  • (1944) D-Day
  • (1947) Inside U.S.A.
  • (1949) Death Be Not Proud, memoir
  • (1949) Behind the Curtain (published in the UK as Behind Europe's Curtain)
  • (1950) Roosevelt in Retrospect: A Profile in History, biography
  • (1951) The Riddle of MacArthur: Japan, Korea, and the Far East
  • (1952) Eisenhower, the Man and the Symbol, biography
  • (1953) Alexander the Great, biography
  • (1955) Inside Africa
  • (1956) Days to Remember: America, 1945-1955 (with B. Quint)
  • (1958) Inside Russia Today
  • (1961) Inside Europe Today
  • (1962) Meet Soviet Russia (2 volumes)
  • (1965) Procession
  • (1967) Inside South America
  • (1969) Twelve Cities
  • (1972) John Gunther's Inside Australia and New Zealand (with W. H. Forbis) ISBN 0-241-02180-4


  • (1926) The Red Pavilion
  • (1927) Peter Lancelot: An Amusement
  • (1926) Eden for One: An Amusement
  • (1929) The Golden Fleece
  • (1932) Bright Nemesis
  • (1945) The Troubled Midnight
  • (1964) The Lost City
  • (1970) The Indian Sign (published in the UK as Quatrain)


  1. ^ John Gunther: Abbreviated profile from World Authors 1900-1950. Accessed 4 July 2007.
  2. ^ IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information
  3. ^ Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946 to the Present, eighth edition, copyright 2003, Ballantine Books, page 616.



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