I knew of John Gunther from two sources: Books from Book of the Month Club selections which were in my parents’ bookshelves: They were general and dated before they arrived. AND, upon reading William L. Shirer’s Twentieth Century Journey, he favorably mentions Gunther, a generous journalist and writer, helpful to a newcomer to Paris in the mid-1920s. 

When I found this volume at a library book sale, I tossed it in the dollar bag. This book tells of the last year and a half of Johnny Gunther’s life, son of his parents who died at 17 years. The boy had a brain tumor; he struggled and survived against some of the most primitive, outrageous treatments that can be imagined (use of mustard gas). There apparently was never a doubt about the outcome. The boy would not survive.

Johnny Gunther was intelligent and bright. He had a very pleasant demeanor and disposition. He was positive, despite losing more and more physical and mental functions and abilities.

A month before his death he was at his high school graduation. He sat on a bench getting a calculus lesson from a fellow student. His mother came up, worried he might be tired. Johnny Gunther answered her, giving an alternative title to the book, and a lesson to the human race: “There’s no future to just sitting.


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