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A Journalist's Diplomatic Mission

Ray Stannard Baker's World War I Diary

edited by Robert Mann

From Our Own Correspondent

512 pages / 6.12 x 9.25 inches / 1 halftone

ebook available

World War I

  Hardcover / 9780807144237 / December 2012

At the height of World War I, in the winter of 1917–1918, one of the Progressive era’s most successful muckracking journalists, Ray Stannard Baker (1870–1946), set out on a special mission to Europe on behalf of the Wilson administration. While posing as a foreign correspondent for the New Republic and the New York World, Baker assessed public opinion in Europe about the war and postwar settlement. American officials in the White House and State Department held Baker’s wide-ranging, trenchant reports in high regard. After the war, Baker remained in government service as the president’s press secretary at the Paris Peace Conference, where the Allied victors dictated the peace terms to the defeated Central Powers.

Baker’s position gave him an extraordinary vantage point from which to view history in the making. He kept a voluminous diary of his service to the president, beginning with his voyage to Europe and lasting through his time as press secretary. Unlike Baker’s published books about Wilson, leavened by much reflection, his diary allows modern readers unfiltered impressions of key moments in history by a thoughtful inside observer.
Published here for the first time, this long-neglected source includes an introduction by John Maxwell Hamilton and Robert Mann that places Baker and his diary into historical context.

John Maxwell Hamilton, a former foreign correspondent, is the author of Journalism's Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting and other books. He is executive vice chancellor and provost of Louisiana State University, LSU Foundation Hopkins P. Breazeale Professor, and the founding dean of LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication.

ROBERT MANN is the author of Working Congress: A Guide for Senators, Representatives, and Citizens; Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics; and many other books. He is also a political columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Praise for A Journalist's Diplomatic Mission

“Ray Stannard had all the gifts of a great diarist. He was a highly perceptive observer, as evidenced in his distinguished journalistic career. He was a fluid, engaging writer, as evidenced in his many books and articles. Most important, he was in the right places at the right time, particularly in Britain, France, and Italy in the last year of World War I and at Woodrow Wilson's elbow during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. This well-edited diary offers unexcelled insights into the people and events that shaped the world right down to our own time.”—John Milton Cooper Jr., author of Woodrow Wilson: A Biography

“We are most fortunate that John Maxwell Hamilton and Robert Mann have annotated the work Baker left behind so that we may all be enlightened, thrilled, and amused as we stand by his side in Paris at a momentous time of transformation. Of the innumerable autobiographies and diaries of war or the peace that followed, A Journalist’s Diplomatic Mission: Ray Stannard Baker’s World War I Diary is the one worth reading.”—David A. Andelman, editor of World Policy Journal and author of A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today

“This is a tour d’horizon of Europe at war’s end through the lens of one of the great American journalists of the twentieth century. Scholars and non-scholars alike will find Baker’s vivid descriptions and observations fascinating and incisive and of real significance.”—Thomas J. Knock, author of To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order

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