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TV Preview: C-Span special to recall WW II writer Ernie Pyle

Saturday, May 18, 2002

By Bob Betcher, Scripps Howard News Service

Ernie Pyle, a legendary roving columnist and World War II correspondent, will be remembered in a two-hour live special tomorrow on C-SPAN.

"American Writers II
in the 20th Century"

FEATURING: Ernie Pyle.

WHEN: Tomorrow at 3 p.m. on CSPAN.


The cable network will recall the career of the writer who liked to travel with enlisted men and who spent much of his time on or just behind the front lines.

The C-SPAN salute will air from 3 to 5 p.m. and will originate from the Ernie Pyle State Historic Site in Dana, Ind., as part of the network's "American Writers II in the 20th Century" series.

"We're attempting to do different eras of American history through the personality of the writers," said C-SPAN producer Maura Pierce. "And Ernie Pyle gave us a base to study World War II."

The dispatches gained him fame for his simplicity and color in human-interest pieces.

In a 1942 column, datelined "Somewhere in Northern Ireland," he wrote "We laymen have little idea of all the ocean flying that is going on now, or what is on the boards in the future. Two years after the war, we'll be flying from New York to London between dinner and breakfast."

About 30 C-SPAN crew members are involved in the production, Pierce said, with 15 of them in Indiana and the rest back at C-SPAN headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"We'll include [Pyle's] relationship with Scripps Howard," Pierce said, noting how his readership increased over the years. "In November of '42, he was in 42 newspapers reaching 3.3 million readers," she said. "Once he was overseas, his reach jumped to 122 newspapers and 9 million readers."

The C-SPAN remote, hosted by Connie Brod, will be situated on the grounds of the Pyle home, which includes two WWII-style Quonset huts.

Pyle, who was born in 1900 and died 45 years later, reported from England, France, North Africa, Italy, and the Pacific theater, among other locations.

He won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer in 1943 for war reporting. Many of his columns were incorporated into books that became best sellers.

C-SPAN profiled 24 other American writers during 2001 and intends to spotlight 15 this year, Pierce said.

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