» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

March 13, 2008
Rating: 8.9/10

Myra MacPherson wants to let you in on a little secret: All Governments Lie! Well… it's true… isn't it? If you don't know, perhaps you should have been around to ask I.F. Stone (1907-1989). Had you been fortunate enough to query Stone himself, you would have no doubt received an answer in the affirmative, although his reply would likely have been more complicated and garrulous than expected. Born Isidor Feinstein Stone, Izzy (as he was known to most), revolutionized the very nature of professional journalism throughout his career. In All Governments Lie, MacPherson chronicles Stone's life from the time he was a boy working as a clerk in his dad's store to his extremely grueling, yet ultimately triumphant, career as an iconoclastic journalist.

From the outset MacPherson, an author and journalist for the Washington Post, New York Times and numerous magazines, does a commendable job of transitioning between Stone's personal struggles and accomplishments, and additionally capturing the political and social atmosphere of the times in which Stone is writing. Thus, the confusion often commonplace with other biographies is not present here, as MacPherson eloquently disentangles Stone's personal vignettes from pertinent historical information. Perhaps the best compliment to MacPherson's work is that throughout most of the book the reader feels emotionally invested in Stone's career. This, however, may be more attributable to Stone than anyone, as the passion with which he wrote appears to be contagious. Many of Stone's passages still penetrate deeply into contemporary society, and MacPherson cleverly places these nuggets throughout her work, which at times makes you wonder if you're reading a Howard Zinn text.

During his career Stone became disenfranchised with many journalistic principles, such as how publications cater to big-business and politicians only to ignore the stories that impact everyday citizens the most. Many times Stone's ideas and beliefs lead him onto shaky ground with both colleagues and employers. However, at the pinnacle of his career, Stone was his own boss, publishing an independent magazine with no advertisements (can you imagine?), called I.F. Stone's Weekly. This small periodical eventually had a circulation of over 70,000, and delivered an enormous political impact throughout the nation. Stone's modus operandi appeared to be combing through Congressional transcripts to see what politicians were afraid to say in front of a camera, a tactic that may go without saying in a post-Google world but was not standard practice a few decades ago. With the otherwise unpublished information in hand, he would write a scathing, yet abundantly informative piece on what politicians actually intend do regarding various issues. It seems Stone's whole family had a hand in the development and success of I.F. Stone's Weekly, especially his wife Esther, who managed the finances and subscriptions.

But while Stone enjoyed great success, his life was far from a fairytale. Since Stone wrote radical articles in times of revolution and wide-spread paranoia and suspicion, he was tagged as one of the FBI's most sought after journalists. Past FBI records show that president Harry S. Truman and his cronies spied on Stone for years, and even thought he may have been tied to the Soviet Union in some capacity; a completely bogus charge that MacPherson quells with ease and simplicity. And although government watchdogs never once found a shred of evidence to link Stone to dealings with the Soviets, the facts played no part in the desire for modern political flame-throwers like Ann Coulter to paint Stone as a communist sympathizer and Soviet ally.

The main point MacPherson conveys in All Governments Lie is that Stone was one of the last true dissenting voices in mainstream journalism. He valued independence above all else, and believed that reporters not only have an obligation to report news, but also to provide insight and analysis into the events for the reader. As MacPherson notes, "Finding real news means reaching beyond the carefully crafted word of official dissemblers… Real objectivity is when reporters dig into documents, rind a credible whistle-blower source, or learn things on their own and verify them." Stone was a master of this, as he was constantly reading documents or calling sources to verify information. Thus, while many consider Stone's writing to be somewhat radical in nature, they may be mistaking his pieces for being too informed, something which most readers rarely encounter within the state of modern journalism.

In many people's eyes I.F. Stone is the single most inspirational and influential journalist of the 20th century. His numerous accomplishments and overall influence in the field certainly warrant such praise, as his writing and ideas flourish throughout this work, as do MacPherson's. Current historical authors sometimes miss the point when connecting past events and people to modern times. But MacPherson, albeit with a heavy dose of Stone, conveys past political situations in a contemporary light, and masterfully harnesses the energy and abundance of a journalistic icon to produce one of the best biographies in recent times.

SEE ALSO: www.ifstone.org

Brian Christopher Jones
A student living in Scotland and working toward a PhD in law.

See other articles by Brian Christopher Jones.



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