Journalist on the front lines


In 1939, Time magazine called her the most influential woman in the United States after Eleanor Roosevelt. More than 10 million people read her syndicated column, "On the Record," carried in more than 170 newspapers.

This summer, Tod Randolph will play Dorothy Thompson, a journalist with a reach across two continents.

Caught in wedding preparations, Thomp son tells stories from her long career in "Cassandra Speaks" previews beginning May 25, opens June 1 and runs to Sept. 2 at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox.

Thompson led the New York Post's foreign news bureau in Germany as liberalism fought facism there and lost -- and she became the first American correspondent expelled from Germany on Adolph Hitler's personal order.

And she watched the chaos build toward World War II from center stage, with intelligent anguish.

She wrote an "On the Record" column warning readers of the dangers of politically changing words. (The column appears in a collection, "Let the Record Speak.")

"Profoundly different meanings attach to the word peace," she said. "In the dictionary of democracies peace is a desirably permanent condition of amicable relationships with all other nations. In the dictionary of dictatorships peace means a quiet and undisturbed period in which to prepare for war ..."

Thompson gave those definitions in 1936.

Would you be surprised to hear them on NPR today?

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