William Allen White

By Everett Rich
THIS excellent book can be expected to make William Allen White no new friends among his fellow countrymen of this generation, for the simple reason that all Americans with a smattering of awareness and good will are his friends already. But it will supply his old friends with much detailed information that they could never get for themselves by even the most laborious processes. Mr. Rich has not begrudged the laborious process of overhauling pretty much everything that his subject ever got into print — the many books, the myriad articles, the journalistic work of sixty-five years. But his authority reaches farther than that, for not only has he had William Allen White to answer ‘freely’ every question asked, but — inestimable advantage — he and the editor of the Emporia Gazette have been fellow townsmen for many years.
The result is a biography that makes us know its subject as few men, past or present, are to be known through a single piece of print. Unsuspected quirks of character and habit are candidly disclosed: for instance, the refusal to support any presidential candidate whose wife White does not know and esteem, together with the undoubted reason for it. Best of all, the author’s frank enthusiasm is never so near to uncritical idolatry as to blur the personality of a man who, with the possible exception of Will Rogers, has poked more fun at himself than any other eminent American of our time.
W. F.