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COLUMN: IU graduate releases book about journalism in WWII



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Ray Boomhower's book "Dispatches from the Pacific" tells about the experiences of WWII reporter Robert L. Sherrod. Sherrod was a war correspondent for Time and Life magazines, during which time he covered WWII and the Vietnam War.  Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Welcome to chapter 10 of the book column. So far this year, I have had the privilege of writing about books across almost all genres. This week, I am bringing yet another type of story into focus. 

“Dispatches from the Pacific” by Ray Boomhower is a biography of the WWII reporter Robert L. Sherrod. 

This is not Boomhower’s first book about a journalistic genius. Since graduating from IU in 1982, Boomhower has written many books, including books about IU graduate and Pulitzer Prize-winning Ernie Pyle and Lew Wallace. 

“I combined my interest in journalism and World War II by writing a youth biography of Ernie Pyle, and now of another World War II correspondent Robert L. Sherrod,” said Boomhower.

Boomhower said he has always been drawn to writing about journalists because he understands the trials and tribulations that come with the field.

His love for journalism began early, Boomhower said. He worked on the Indiana Daily Student for three years while he was a student at IU. 

“There is always a thrill seeing what you wrote in print, and that was increased by having it read, and sometimes enjoyed, by my classmates and friends," said Boomhower.

The IDS taught Boomhower to never fear a deadline, he said. It was something that came in handy when he started writing full-length books later in life. 

He now works for the Indiana Historical Society Press, the publication that published his latest book. 

Boomhower stayed in Indiana after graduation because he said he was in tune with the low-key nature of Indiana living. Boomhower is also a native Hoosier. His post-graduation adventures took him to many small town publications before joining the Indiana Historical Society Press. 

“I have been lucky to have served as editor of the quarterly magazine Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, working with a variety of writers to explore the Hoosier character and, from time to time, writing articles for the magazine,” said Boomhower. 

Much different from writing magazine articles, Boomhower’s newest book, “Dispatches from the Pacific,” is Sherrod’s story of living on the front lines of the Pacific theater. He also talks about the effects that Sherrod’s stories had on the homefront.

Boomhower was first drawn to Sherrod after reading his book, “Tarawa: The Story of a Battle.” It is a recollection of a bloody operation on Betio Island located in Kiribati. Sherrod wrote the book to explain to the homefront how difficult winning the war against the Japanese would be. 

“One of the highlights was being able to hold the 'C' correspondent armband he wore,” said Boomhower. 

The book was written on contract with the Indiana Historical Society Press, and Boomhower received a research grant from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. It took nearly two years of reading Sherrod’s original dispatches in the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University, and the Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections at the Gray Research Center in Quantico, Virginia, to create “Dispatches from the Pacific” 

“Dispatches from the Pacific” is a gripping biography of a talented WWII reporter who left an incredible impact on the world of journalism. It is a perfect read for history buffs and those with an interest in journalism. 

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