The untold story of Dorothy Thompson, the first American journalist expelled from Nazi Germany and the inspiration for Sinclair Lewis’s novel “It Can’t Happen Here.”
War correspondent, syndicated columnist, and public speaker, Dorothy Thompson was America’s leading voice against fascism and for supporting refugees before and during World War Two. She was the first American woman to lead a foreign press bureau and the first Western journalist expelled from Nazi Germany. Thompson’s reporting from Europe, with relevant warnings about the fragility of liberal democracy, inspired her husband, Nobel Prize-winner Sinclair Lewis, to write his 1936 and 2016 bestseller “It Can’t Happen Here.” Before her death, Thompson advocated for international disarmament, world federation, and more women in positions of power, including a woman as U.S. president; some of Thompson’s contemporaries even suggested her for the job.
As one of the leading journalists of her time, and with a reputation that bordered on legendary, Dorothy Thompson risked her reputation and her life to learn the truth and report it to her readers and listeners – more than 10 million Americans every week.
Without Fear or Favor is the story of one remarkable woman’s professional, emotional, intellectual, political, and spiritual journey as an active participant in the 20th Century’s most transformational events: women’s suffrage, post-WWI reconstruction, the Great Depression, the rise of nationalism, populism, and fascism in the East and West, World War II, the dawn of the nuclear age and the Cold War, and America’s evolution from regional upstart to world empire.
A fearless and uncompromising truth-teller, Thompson raised the alarm when threats to a free press and civil society appeared abroad and at home. Energized by the multitude of threats posed to liberal democracy from within and without, Thompson left behind a prescient legacy. She boldly personified the power of a free press and the Fourth Estate, often risking her reputation and her life to tell the important stories and hold the powerful accountable.
Many of Dorothy Thompson’s warnings still resonate today – some more loudly than in her own time.