W. C. Heinz, R.I.P.

He was 93 years old, so I can't say I was exactly shocked to pick up today's New York Times and see an obituary for W.C. Heinz. But I was saddened. Heinz was one of the best prose stylists in American journalism in the 20th Century, and I cherish the hour or so I spent on the phone interviewing him several years ago for a piece on journalists in danger. He was warm and engaging, utterly forthright about his feelings covering WWII, just as I had always thought he would be.

According to the Powell's Books website, at least five of his books are available. You can probably do even better if you use bookfinder.com. If you have never read Heinz, I recommend just about any of his work, but you should probably start with the piece cited in his Times obit, "The Morning They Shot the Spies," and move on from there to his sports journalism. I believe it is currently out of print, but you should definitely seek out Once They Heard the Cheers, a unique and moving journey in which Heinz revisits the subjects of some of his best pieces. Nobody wrote more movingly or perceptively about the state of mind of the former athlete, and his introductory essay captures beautifully the experience of the returning veteran (in his case, war correspondent) trying to find his old place in the world.


Bud Rudder said…
WFB and Bill Heinz passing on the same day! A loss to us all. Pity that Bill's passing will raise few notices. He was every bit the equal of WFB. Go find some of his work - read it - you will be richly rewarded.