This essay reviews the book Personal History, by Vincent Sheean. First published in 1935, Personal History is a memoir of Sheean, an American journalist. In October 1922, Sheean, then a young man from Pana, a small town in southern Illinois, applied for a job in the Paris office of the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune hired him as a utility man for its Paris newspaper and for the Paris bureau of its foreign service. “In a click of time, I became what was called a foreign correspondent,” Sheean later wrote in Personal History. Sheean's first decade or so of foreign correspondence, the framework of Personal History, was a tutorial in world news. What elevated Sheean even among luminaries in journalism was the literary quality of his reporting, his uncanny ability to situate himself in the slipstream of monumental news, and the intensity of feeling with which he viewed those events. All of that is on display in Personal History, published thirteen years after he found his job at the Tribune.
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