Writer and historian John Joseph Gunther (1901–1970) was born on this day in Chicago. Fascinated by facts and research, he wrote his first encyclopedia, a fifth grade project, at age eleven.
"All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast," he once said.
A journalist with the Chicago Daily News and a stellar foreign correspondent, he wrote a series of best-selling "Inside" books, 1,000-page in-depth examination of culture and politics of a particular place in the world.
His passion was learning as much as he could about a subject; delving, probing, prodding. Inside Asia (1939), Inside U.S.A. (1947), Inside South America (1967)...
According to Harper Collins Publishers, over a period of 30 years, the Inside books sold 3,500,000 copies.
"I am compelled to believe in my own self," he said. "Whatever its manifest imperfections and shortcomings--or my life would hardly be worth living."
In 1947, Gunther described America as "the greatest, craziest, most dangerous, least stable, most spectacular, least grown-up and most powerful nation ever known."
"I have so much to do! And there's so little time," he wrote in Death Be Not Proud (1949), a moving memoir about the death of his 17 year-old son, Johnny, from a brain tumor.
Named for a passage in John Donne's Holy Sonnet X, the book is an inspirational celebration of courage and life in the face of death. "What is life?" Gunther asked. "It departs covertly. Like a thief Death took him."
Goodness glows. Let it.