West Virginia University Press has published “Algerian Diary: Frank Kearns and the “Impossible Assignment for CBS News, written by Gerald Davis, a WVU Reed College of Media graduate, with a foreword by Tom Fenton.

Kirkus Reviews declares “This book offers a rare glimpse at a legendary journalist at work during the earliest days of TV. As if to make up for the lack of appreciation during Kearns’ life, Davis offers a loving tribute to a fearless reporter.”

Frank Kearns was the go-to guy at CBS News for dangerous stories in Africa and the Middle East in the 1950s, ‘60s, and early ‘70s. By his own account, he was nearly killed 114 times. He took stories that nobody else wanted to cover and was challenged to get them on the air when nobody cared about this part of the world. But his stories were warning shots for conflicts that play out in the headlines today.

In 1957, Senator John Kennedy described America’s view of the Algerian war for independence as the Eisenhower Administration’s “head in the sand policy.” So CBS News decided to find out what was really happening there and to determine where Algeria’s war for independence fit into the game plan for the Cold War. They sent Frank Kearns to find out.

Kearns took with him cameraman Yousef (“Joe”) Masraff and 400 pounds of gear, some of which they shed, and hiked with FLN escorts from Tunisia, across a wide “no-man’s land,” and into the Aures Mountains of eastern Algeria, where the war was bloodiest. They carried no passports or visas. They dressed as Algerians. They refused to bear weapons. And they knew that if captured, they would be executed and left in unmarked graves. But their job as journalists was to seek the truth whatever it might turn out to be.

This is Frank Kearns’s diary.

More praise for Algerian Diary:

Terry Wimmer, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and editor, and professor of journalism at the University of Arizona states, “In an era of journalism now where the model is more attuned to balderdash based on weak or invalid claims, Kearns’s work stands as an honorable model of what good reporting is.”

Hugh Wilford, author of The Mighty Wurlitzer and America’s Great Game, says “Davis has researched his subject exhaustively and provides here a richly detailed portrait of a brilliant, complex man. But he also lets Kearns speak for himself in his Algerian diary, a searing, compelling example of war reportage at its best.”

Gerald Davis is the producer, writer, and director of Frank Kearns: American Correspondent, a one-hour documentary film developed by Greenbriar Group Films in association with West Virginia Public Broadcasting. A native of Elkins, West Virginia, Davis earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University, where he was a student of Frank Kearns.

Publication date: March 2016
208pp/35 b/w images, map, appendix, chronology, glossary, index/ PB 978-1-933202-62-4: $19.99/ebook: 978-1-940425-76-4: $19.99



CONTACT: Abby Freeland, Marketing Manager at West Virginia University Press
304.293.6188, abby.freeland@mail.wvu.edu

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