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Hanson W. Baldwin was America’s best-known military writer and analyst in the 20th century covering conflicts from World War II to the Vietnam War. He was the military editor of the New York Times for forty years and his dispatches from Guadalcanal and the Western Pacific won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1943.This first biography of this Naval Academy graduate begins with an appreciation of the human and literary values learned from his Baltimore newspaper family. His midshipman years, 1920-1924, taught him the value of concentration. After three years of active service, he chose the life of a professional writer. A few days before the 1929 stock market crash, he joined the New York Times as a reporter. His career was advanced by the patronage of the Times publisher and by the talk of another European war in 1937. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1943 for his Guadalcanal series. After 1945, he thought the atomic bomb to be of limited use on the battlefield as well as in the politics of the Cold War. His news scoops upset many but were in keeping with his determination to tell his readers what its government was doing. His continuing criticism of Secretary McNamara’s management of the Vietnam War and the Times management’s annoyance with his pro-war position contributed to his decision to retire in March 1968. Later, he could only observe and to complain over the decline of American values and its harmful effects on the military. After his retirement he continued to write articles on military affairs for the news columns and Op-Ed page of the New York Times.
Baldwin was the first Naval Academy graduate to win a Pulitzer Prize (1943). He was the first American print journalist assigned by a national newspaper to cover military and naval events full time in 1937.
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Baldwin of the Times
Hanson W. Baldwin was America’s best-known military writer and analyst in the 20th century covering...Read More
By: Eric Smith - writer, reviewer & cartoonist for Proceedings & Naval History
New York Times journalist Hanson Baldwin was just about everywhere he needed to be during America's wars from 1941 to 1968. You could find him in a dusty jeep bouncing over the North African desert, sweating through a jungle on Guadalcanal or flying over South Vietnam base camps in a Huey helicopter - always composing insightful dispatches back to the Times about what he observed and experienced. Over a long career, Baldwin became one of this country's most respected military analysts. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his work in the South Pacific and broke stories about Cold War flash points like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the U-2 spy plane incident. As a US Naval Academy graduate and a former serving naval officer, he was intimately familiar with military affairs and firmly advocated a strong national defense. During the Vietnam War, he gave uncompromising support to what the author says Baldwin felt was "the right war in the right place against the right enemy." The Times management, and ultimately the country, disagreed, and he retired in 1969. The author, a professor at Minnesota State University, does an admirable job of chronicling Baldwin's life and work. This carefully written biography also details the ebb and flow of America's defense doctrines during those turbulent times, with an emphasis on how they were interpreted by one of its premier reporters.