John Bartlow Martin

John Bartlow Martin

A Voice for the Underdog
Ray E. Boomhower
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/18/2015
Format: Hardback 25 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01614-0
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Silver Medal, Biography category, 2016 Independent Publisher Book AwardsWinner, 2015 Society of Midland Authors awardsHonorable Mention, 2016 INDIEFAB Awards, Biography

During the 1940s and 1950s, one name, John Bartlow Martin, dominated the pages of the "big slicks," the Saturday Evening Post, LIFE, Harper’s, Look, and Collier’s. A former reporter for the Indianapolis Times, Martin was one of a handful of freelance writers able to survive solely on this writing. Over a career that spanned nearly fifty years, his peers lauded him as "the best living reporter," the "ablest crime reporter in America," and "one of America’s premier seekers of fact." His deep and abiding concern for the working class, perhaps a result of his upbringing, set him apart from other reporters. Martin was a key speechwriter and adviser to the presidential campaigns of many prominent Democrats from 1950 into the 1970s, including those of Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, and George McGovern. He served as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic during the Kennedy administration and earned a small measure of fame when FCC Chairman Newton Minow introduced his description of television as "a vast wasteland" into the nation’s vocabulary.

Author Bio

Ray E. Boomhower is author of The People’s Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana and Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary (IUP, 2008). He is Senior Editor of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, the quarterly magazine of the Indiana Historical Society.


“During the 1940s and 1950s, one name, John Bartlow Martin, dominated the pages of the “big slicks.” Over a career that spanned nearly fifty years, his peers lauded him as “the best living reporter,” the “ablest crime reporter in America,” and “one of America’s premier seekers of fact.””

“John Bartlow Martin’s critical work as a journalist—and as an ambassador and professor—influenced public policy and journalism itself, and his life deserves the study and recognition found in Ray Boomhower's new biography. His articles in leading magazines were read by millions of Americans.”
 — Bradley J. Hamm , Dean, Medill School of Journalism

“As a gifted writer himself, John Bartlow Martin would be pleased with this fact filled and well organized biography of his extraordinary life and career. Ray Boomhower has made an enduring and insightful contribution to the history of 20th century life in America.”
 — Newt Minow, Senior Counsel Sidley Austin        

“Ray Boomhower's biography of John Bartlow Martin should be read by anyone attempting to grasp American national politics in the last half of the 20th century. Martin was a writer, diplomat, political strategist, and most of all a committed and caring man.”
 — Ted Van Dyk, author of Heroes, Hacks and Fools

“The importance of John Bartlow Martin's witness to history is beyond argument and the track record of Ray Boomhower guarantees justice to a Hoosier chronicler who deserves to be a household name.”
 — Daniel Carpenter, The Indianapolis Star  

“This book offers important insights for students of journalism, the media, presidential campaigns, and foreign affairs. On the whole, Boomhower keeps Martin's story lively and moving, and he handles each aspect of it with economy and grace. Martin would have been proud. ”
 — The Michigan Historical Review

“A fine book, detailed and thorough. It should be mandatory reading in journalism schools across the land.”
 — Chicago Tribune

“A thoroughly researched biography of a fascinating champion of the underdog who spent his formative years in Indianapolis and later had a remarkable, far-reaching career in journalism and politics...Boomhower, who works for the Indiana Historical Society, is the dean of biographers of Hoosiers...”
 — Indianapolis Star

“"Boomhower's biography is a valuable souvenir of an era when magazine journalism was a vital and important medium of the American culture."”
 — Middle West Review

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Table of Contents

1. The Responsible Reporter
2. A Mean Street in a Mean City
3. Two Cents a Word
4. The Big Slicks
5. All the Way with Adlai
6. The New America
7. The Honorable Ambassador
8. LBJ and Adlai
9. The Return of the Native
10. As Time Goes By

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