Born in Hoboken, NJ.
Journalist and writer. New York Times, New York, NY, began as reporter, became bureau chief in Mexico, bureau chief in Canada, 1993-99, became international business correspondent, c. 2000—.
Here: A Biography of the New American Continent, PublicAffairs (New York, NY), 2001.
The Man Who Invented Fidel: Cuba, Castro, and Herbert L. Matthews of the New York Times, PublicAffairs (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Columbia Journalism Review, Harper's, New York Times Magazine, and Woman's Day.
Anthony DePalma is a New York Times journalist who has worked as the newspaper's bureau chief in both Mexico and Canada. He is also the author of Here: A Biography of the New American Continent. Here "is a fine biography of the relationship between Canada, Mexico and the United States," Andrew Reding wrote in the New York Times Book Review. "It should be required reading for every American who wants to understand the forces that are causing North America to loom ever larger in our consciousness, slowly eroding the borders between its nations." Although DePalma does examine the current trends toward integration, as Reding noted, he also discusses these three countries' diverse cultural histories, which often serve to push them apart. "There's no biography written without looking back into the history of where that person came from," DePalma told Ray Saurez in an interview posted on the NewsHour Web site. "That really helps you understand, whether it be a person or a place." DePalma added that "although all three nations began at the same time and in the same place and were founded by people from roughly the same part of the world, being Europe, they developed in very different ways." He also observed, however, that "we have to acknowledge that we have a lot in common."
Upon its publication in 2001, Here won praise as an important contribution to the understanding of relations between the North American nations in the era of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which went into effect on January 1, 1994. Maclean's reviewer Brian Bethune called attention to Here's "intricate account of converging economies and societies," which are both a cause and an effect of NAFTA. DePalma himself is often praised for his extensive knowledge of Mexico and Canada. "It would be hard to find a surer guide to the new American continent than Mr. DePalma," David M. Oshinsky wrote in the New York Times, adding that he has "a sharp eye for cultural observation." Robert A. Pastor, meanwhile, noted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Here "is a wonderful read that brims with poetry, anecdotes and blistering insights into the human and continental condition."
In his next book, The Man Who Invented Fidel: Cuba, Castro, and Herbert L. Matthews of the New York Times, DePalma investigates the case of New York Times reporter Herbert L. Matthews and how his reporting on the revolutionary Fidel Castro in 1957 before Castro's overthrow of Cuba ultimately led to the demise of Matthews's career. "DePalma aims for a general audience with his lively narrative and lack of theory," wrote Linda J. Lumsden on Humanities and Social Sciences Online. "The book is highly readable."
As a reporter on assignment for the New York Times, Matthews tracked down Castro in the Sierra Maestra mountains of Cuba. Castro was thought to be dead, and Matthews had a scoop that would delight his bosses at the New York Times. He ultimately wrote a heroic portrayal of Castro, which was credited with having a profound effect on leading Americans to positively view Castro's revolutionary movement and also in ultimately influencing the fall of the tyrannical regime of General Fulgencio Batista. However, when Castro took power as a dictator backed by the Soviet Union, Matthews became a scapegoat, leading even the New York Times to turn on him and relegate him to small-time assignments working in a type of virtual exile. In the process of telling the story, DePalma recreates Cold War America and provides insights in Cuban history and politics. He also discusses the difficulties of practicing responsible journalism.
"DePalma has produced a wise, nuanced, and important book, one that says a great deal not only about Herbert Matthews and his failings, but about the press and the way it covers world events," wrote Ronald Radosh in the National Review. Biography contributor Ken Frankel commented that the author "uncovers fresh details of Matthews's Cuban odyssey, and delivers a sympathetic, but sober correction of the erroneous caricature that has survived for a half century." Columbia Journalism Review contributor James Boylan commented that the author "has found new veins of drama and complication in the old story and presents Matthews in a sympathetic but not exculpatory light."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Prospect, October 22, 2001, Jeff Faux, review of Here: A Biography of the New American Continent, p. 44.
American Studies International, June, 2002, Joel Hodson, review of Here, pp. 104-106.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 9, 2001, Robert A. Pastor, "Post-Nafta: How North America Has Changed," p. D5.
Biography, summer, 2006, Ken Frankel, review of The Man Who Invented Fidel: Cuba, Castro, and Herbert L. Matthews of the New York Times, p. 531.
Booklist, April 15, 2006, Jay Freeman, review of The Man Who Invented Fidel, p. 7.
Business Week, July 30, 2001, "Yankees, Meet Your Neighbors," p. 18.
Canadian Journal of History, April, 2002, Reginald C. Stuart, review of Here, pp. 95-101.
Choice, January, 2002, C.K. Piehl, review of Here, p. 937.
Columbia Journalism Review, May-June, 2006, James Boylan, review of The Man Who Invented Fidel, p. 69.
Economist, August 22, 2001, "And Gone Tomorrow?"
Library Journal, August, 2001, John E. Hodgkins, review of Here, p. 137.
Maclean's, August 13, 2001, Brian Bethune, "True North Strong," p. 50.
National Journal, October 13, 2001, Louis Jacobson, review of Here, p. 3195.
National Review, June 19, 2006, Ronald Radosh, "A Dictator's Scribe," review of The Man Who Invented Fidel, p. 51.
New York Times, July 18, 2001, David M. Oshinsky, "Blurring Borders in the New World," p. E10.
New York Times Book Review, July 8, 2001, Andrew Reding, "The Merger"; April 23, 2006, Jonathan Alter, "Taking Sides," review of The Man Who Invented Fidel.
Reason, March, 2007, Glenn Garvin, "Fidel's Favorite Propagandist: How a New York Times Reporter's Passion for Castro Led Him Astray," review of The Man Who Invented Fidel, p. 50.
Time International, July 16, 2001, Stephen Handelman, "Meeting the Neighbors," p. 54.
Humanities and Social Sciences Online, http://www.h-net.msu.edu/reviews/ (April 2, 2008), Linda J. Lumsden, review of The Man Who Invented Fidel.
NewsHour, http://pbs.org/ (December 2, 2001), Ray Saurez, interview with Anthony DePalma.