Last Call at the Hotel Imperial

By Deborah Cohen,

Book cover of Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took On a World at War

Book description

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A prize-winning historian’s “effervescent” (The New Yorker) account of a close-knit band of wildly famous American reporters who, in the run-up to World War II, took on dictators and rewrote the rules of modern journalism

“High-speed, four-lane storytelling . . . Cohen’s all-action narrative…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Last Call at the Hotel Imperial as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is one of the best books I have read in many years.

In a time when foreign correspondents always traveled first class, it tells the fascinating story of four reporters, John Gunther, H. R. Knickerbocker, Vincent Sheean, and Dorothy Thompson, correspondents who took on dictators while rewriting the rules of modern journalism. 

Glamorous, gutsy, and irreverent to the bone, they roamed Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, detailing the rise of fascism and its likely impact on the world order.

In the process, they landed interviews with the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Nehru, and Gandhi and helped shape American…

This much-praised book is about the legends of journalism (Dorothy Thompson, John Gunther, 'Knick' Knickerbocker, among others) who wrote about the earth-shaking events of the last century, Hitler's rise to power, Stalin's brutality in pursuit of a new Soviet Russia, the collapse of empires, the Second World War. 

They saw it all, wrote about it, and tried to warn a not-always-receptive America to the dangerous world we live in. 

This cover completely drew me in because the typewriter, cityscape, and WWII airplanes all show an urgency and a story just waiting to be told. Cohen writes about prominent WWII foreign correspondents, including Dorothy Thompson and Frances Fineman, who travel the world in search of the latest war update. It was certainly not as easy to get from country to country back then—especially across vast oceans—so I really appreciated their determination to travel. 

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