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Walter Lippmann Biography

(1889–1974), New Republic, A Preface to Politics, Vanity Fair, World, Herald Tribune, Washington Post, Newsweek

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American essayist, journalist, and social commentator, born in New York City, educated at Harvard. Lippmann's career as an analyst and critic of American social and political affairs began at the end of the First World War and ended with the traumas of the Vietnam War and Watergate. In 1913 he joined the New Republic at the invitation of Herbert Croly. His first book, A Preface to Politics (1913), was strongly influenced by Croly's espousal of big government and strong leadership as ways of combating the powers of big business and special interest groups. In 1918 Lippmann was commissioned as a captain in US military intelligence and was delegated to provide the official commentary on Woodrow Wilson's ‘Fourteen Points’ speech. He joined Vanity Fair in 1920, the New York World in 1922, and the New York Herald Tribune in 1931. During the USA's increasing involvement in Vietnam Lippmann was attached to the Washington Post syndicate and, as a columnist, to Newsweek. During this period he had risen to become the most respected liberal columnist in the USA, but despite his liberal proclivities, Lippmann was an excoriating critic of the New Deal, dismissing Franklin D. Roosevelt as an ‘amiable boy scout’ and supporting Wendell Willkie's candidacy for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. He supported the broad objectives of US foreign policy during the Cold War period, but was frequently a trenchant critic of those who administered the policy. His other major works are Drift and Mastery (1914), The Good Society (1937), and Essays in the Public Philosophy (1955). See also Walter Lippmann and the American Century (1980), by Ronald Steel.

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