R.W. “Johnny” Apple, author of Apple’s America, was associated with The New York Times for over four decades, until his death in October, 2006. He wrote extensively on a variety of topics, including politics, foreign policy, economic issues, food, wine, arts and travel. The incredible range of his subjects is reflected in the wide range of his awards, which include the George Polk Award for foreign reporting, a James Beard food writing award, and the Lowell Thomas award for travel writing.
In Apple’s America: The Discriminating Traveler’s Guide to 40 Great Cities in the United States and Canada (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Johnny Apple deftly turned his adventurous enthusiasm and endless curiosity toward forty great American cities – including Louisville, Kentucky. His commentaries capture the tone and style of life in his favorite urban communities, while exploring the hidden treasures, famous landmarks, arts and architecture, business, history and present-day realities that make each city unique. The book offers unpretentious, sophisticated, and always appetizing advice from a celebrated authority.
Who could better synthesize each city’s history, politics and culture in roughly 10 pages than R.W. Apple Jr.? At the Times, Apple was known as a master at writing a kind of news-analysis piece known as a Q-head, which provides historical context for a newsworthy event. Few could ever match his skill. He wrote about the best bacon in Wisconsin with the same enthusiasm and endless curiosity that he expressed when examining life in Washington D.C.
Apple served as associate editor of The New York Times, as well as its chief Washington correspondent, Washington Bureau chief, and chief correspondent and bureau chief in Albany, Saigon, Lagos, Nairobi, London and Moscow. After joining the Times in November 1963, he corresponded from more than 100 countries. He covered the Vietnam war, the Biafran war, the Iranian revolution and the overthrow of Communist governments in Czechslovakia, East Germany and Hungary. He headed the Time’s coverage of the Gulf war in 1991.
At home, he was involved in the coverage of 22 national conventions and 10 presidential elections and served as national political correspondent from 1970 to 1976. Prior to joining the paper, he covered the civil rights movement in the American South.
A frequent contributor to British, French and American magazines, Apple also appeared on television programs such as NBC’s “Meet the Press”, and as a lecturer on major college campuses. Aside from reporting on war and politics, his keen observations have covered culture, travel and, especially, food. Among reporters Apple stories abound: accounts of his staggering expense account or prodigious appetite. Johnny Apple was the stuff legends are made of–flamboyant, abrasive, and incredibly talented.
Apple’s America followed Apple’s Europe, an Uncommon Guide, which offered much about European cuisine, art, history, and music and nothing at all about cruises, ski resorts, and rental villas. Apple’s prose typically touches on a variety of subjects: dining out in Budapest, Dostoevsky’s haunts, Parisian bistros, Churchill’s England, “unknown” places to visit, Wren’s churches, and, best of all, a packing list that tops them all. Johnny Apple provided a collection of advice, erudition, and anecdotes to entertain and guide travelers everywhere, at home or abroad.
Tom Brokaw, anchor of “NBC Nightly News” for twenty-one years, now NBC News Special Correspondent, and one of the most respected figures in broadcast journalism, interviewed his long-time friend and colleague, .Johnny Apple, at Kentucky Author Forum.