Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cornelius Ryan: The Legacy of a Groundbreaking Journalist

by Adriana Williams,
Marisa Dockum,

Cornelius Ryan, a war correspondent in WWII, is considered one of the 20th century's top investigative journalists according to Doug McCabe, the manuscripts curator at Ohio University's Alden Library. While writing his three novels based on WWII battles, Ryan interviewed military personnel, commanders and civilians from Germany, France, Britain and the United States to compile a fair and detailed report of each battle. Ryan saved all of his manuscripts, notes and interviews, and that collection is valued at more than $100,000. Ohio University bought the collection from Ryan's wife after his death in 1974.

McCabe met with us to talk about the historical importance of not only Ryan's novels, but also the interviews and research used in compiling the stories. McCabe says, "We can't get in touch with these people, ask them about their experiences... these books are what's left."

Professors, students, and even authors come from around the state and the country to study the "wealth of information" provided by Ryan's meticulous records. Doug McCabe's favorite piece from Ryan's collection, the novel A Bridge Too Far, describes Operation Market Basket, a maneuver by Allied forces in 1944 to gain control of the Netherlands. It was also his last novel. Cornelius Ryan died just months after it was published. His collection contains first editions of his novels published in 30 languages, as well as artifacts and photographs relating to WWII.

Thanks to Doug McCabe at the Ohio University Alden Library