John Gunther was the best selling author of 28 books including Inside Europe in 1936 and many "Inside" geo-political travel books. John was born on the North Side of Chicago on Aug. 30, 1901. He attended Lake View High School at 4015 N. Ashland Avenue and wrote for the student magazine. At age 16, he wrote an article on the Russian Revolution and would revisit the topic of Russia many times in his life culminating with his 1958 book Inside Russia Today. As an English major at the University of Chicago, he was 20 years old when he started writing book reviews for the campus newspaper, the Daily Maroon. John graduated from the University of Chicago in 1922 and was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa key.
In late 1922, after he bicycled across Europe, John started to work as a cub reporter for The Chicago Daily News earning a salary of $15 per week. Gunther went to Wyoming in 1924 to write about the great oil deposit scandal of the Harding Administration called Teapot Dome. He wrote: "Teapot Dome has no resemblance whatever to a teapot [or] to a dome." His bad jokes notwithstanding, in fact his series was ranked among the best news stories of 1924.
From 1924 to 1936, Gunther was primarily assigned to work for the London bureau of The Chicago Daily News. But during those 12 years, he covered events in every European capital except Lisbon, Portugal.
During his years as an author and reporter, Gunther inteviewed many of the world's top leaders including English Prime Minister Lloyd George, President Jan Masaryk of Czechoslovakia, King Carol of Rumania, Mohanda K. Gandhi of India, Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, Irish President Eamon De Valera, Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kaishek of China, President Quezon of Philippines, many South American presidents, Marshal Josep Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Pope Pius XII, Premier de Gasperi of Italy, Prime Minister Nehru of India, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, and many others.
In 1936 Gunther published the first of his popular "Inside" books called Inside Europe. Others in that series included Inside Asia (1939), Inside Latin America (1941), Inside U.S.A. (1947), Inside Africa (1955), Inside Russia Today (1958), Inside Europe Today (1958), Inside South America (1967), and Inside Australia and New Zealand which was published by his co-author in 1972 after Gunther's death. While Gunther's detractors said the "Inside" books were superficial surveys, they were extremely popular primers that sold about three million copies by the time he died. Gunther also wrote eight novels that did not sell as well as his nonfiction books.
Two of his other nonfiction works that sold very well were his biography of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and the emotionally charged memoir of 1949 called Death Be Not Proud, a chronicle of the struggles of his courageous son Johnny who battled a brain tumor and died at age 17. This last book is still studied in American high schools today. John Gunther died May 20, 1970 in New York.