Monday, June 25, 2007


There are some people who are so intelligent and talented that it is just exhausting to watch. Ruth Gruber, author of Witness: one of the great correspondents of the twentieth century tells her own story, is one of those people. She earned her doctorate at the age of twenty, becoming the youngest Ph.D. in the world and making headlines. She had written the first doctoral thesis analyzing the writing of Virginia Woolf, and was rewarded with an invitation to tea with Woolf. In 1935 – at the age of 24 – she traveled through Soviet Siberia as an international correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. She worked for Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior for Franklin Roosevelt. As Ickes’ assistant, she was sent to Alaska to document the construction of the Alaska Highway. She also visited the communities of Barrow, Hooper Bay, and Point Hope, photographing the people and places she encountered. She sailed from Europe aboard a Navy ship carrying Holocaust survivors to America, collecting their stories and taking photos of them still wearing their striped concentration camp pajamas. She attended the Nuremberg trials, visited Jewish refugee camps in Cyprus, and reported on the establishment of Israel. As a female reporter, she was able to gain the trust of the women and children she met, and her photographs are very personal and touching. She was in the midst of history as it was being made, and at the age of 95, her memories and reflections are fascinating.

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