Inside U.S.A.

The seventy-fifth anniversary edition of Gunther’s classic portrait of America

Inside U.S.A. is far from a panegyric. Gunther listed ‘the worst American characteristics—covetousness, ignorance, absence of aesthetic values, get-rich-quickism, bluster, lack of vision, lack of foresight, excessive standardization, and immature and undisciplined social behavior.’ America was still ‘an enormously provincial nation,’ he wrote. ‘I do not know any country that is so ignorant about itself.’ Have we improved noticeably in the half century since?” —Arthur Schlesinger Jr.,The Atlantic Monthly

John Gunther’s Inside series were among the most popular books of reportage of the 1930s and 1940s. For Inside U.S.A., his magnum opus, Gunther set out from California and visited every state in the country, offering frank, lucid, and humorous observations along the way in what legendary publisher Robert Gottlieb, writing in the New York Times, calls Gunther’s “fluent, personal, casual, snappy” voice. Gunther’s insights on race, labor, the impact of massive New Deal public works projects, rural life, urbanization, and much more yield fascinating insight into life in a postwar America that had vaulted into the status of the world’s preeminent superpower.

This seventy-fifth-anniversary edition of Inside U.S.A. provides an invaluable picture of America as it was and is both a delight to read and filled with insights that remain deeply relevant today.



“[Gunther] was a reporter—probably the best America ever had. He came, he saw, he wrote.”
—Robert Gottlieb, The New York Times
“[V]ivid and acute. . . . an astonishing tour de force. It presents a shrewd, fast-moving, sparkling panorama of the United States at this historic moment of apparent triumph.”
—Arthur Schlesinger Jr., The Atlantic
“A Whitmanesque snapshot of the domestic political scene on the threshold of the postwar era. . . . Although later journalists, albeit only by team effort, eventually duplicated the scale of his canvas (that is, the entire U.S. political universe), none has ever matched the astuteness or piquancy of his characterizations of an entire generation of public figures.”
—Mike Davis, in City of Quartz
“The richest treasure-house of facts about America that has ever been published, and probably the most spirited and interesting.”
—Sinclair Lewis
“When I was writing Master of the Senate, I had [Inside U.S.A.] on my desk next to my typewriter, and whenever I needed to check on someone or something, all I had to do was open it up. And the sense it conveys about America in the postwar 1940s! There’s just nothing like it!”
—Robert Caro

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