A Walk Toward Oregon Essay - Critical Essays

A Walk Toward Oregon

Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.’s eye is sure and his memory (and research) exemplary as he provides a fascinating picture of important periods and episodes of his long and remarkably filled life in A Walk Toward Oregon: A Memoir. Readers see his strong, traditional family, his happy childhood in the teens and twenties in New York City, the family’s connections to writing and publishing through his mother’s father, S. K. Knopf, the publisher, introducing him as a child to such writers as H. L. Mencken. Brief jobs in Hollywood and New York preceded his work as a writer for radio station WOR and the New York Herald Tribune. Trips to Mexico yielded an interview with Leon Trotsky and other publications; later he coordinated on-the-scene accounts of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on WOR. Joining the Marines as a combat correspondent, he rose to the rank of Sergeant and earned the Bronze Star for his recording of the ship-to-shore invasion of Guam on July 21, 1944.

In 1951 he began a career at TIME, as well as his life-long association with American Indians that would lead to twelve years of research on the Nez Perce Indians, a number of books on American Indian subjects including Patriot Chiefs: A Chronicle of American Indian Leadership (1961), a changed perspective on American Indian affairs, and buying a home in Wallowa County, Oregon.

A social history of the United States in the twentieth century as well as a personal memoir, A Walk Toward Oregon will satisfy on many levels.