Today’s obituary for Herbert Mitgang in The New York Times goes into much more detail than we did yesterday. For example, we wrote about Herb’s work for Stars and Stripes in World War II. The Times tells you he did much more than that during the war, serving as an Army intelligence officer, parachuting into Greece, and earning six battle stars.
The Times highlights Herb Mitgang’s 1988 book Dangerous Dossiers: Exposing the Secret War Against America’s Greatest Authors, which he wrote using FBI, CIA, and other files he obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The book:
reported that the agencies were suspicious not just of radical views but also of liberal ones. Mr. Mitgang said the Nobel Prize winners Sinclair Lewis and William Faulkner were monitored in part because they favored racial equality.
The file on Ernest Hemingway, another Nobel winner, included voluminous evidence of his opposition to fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War, criticized his muscular writing style and, probably most damning, said that he had once likened the F.B.I. to the Gestapo.
The F.B.I. saw Steinbeck’s sympathetic portraits of the American downtrodden as fodder for Nazi and Soviet propaganda. When he tried to get into the Army as an officer in 1943, Steinbeck, also a Nobel laureate, was turned down on the basis of his F.B.I. file.
There’s much more, and it’s well worth reading in full.