Kansas University alumnus Mark Scott is banking on the nation's renewed interest in World War II to spark interest in his new book.
"Bravo, Amerikanski! and Other Stories from World War II" is the first-person biography of United Press war correspondent Ann Stringer, as she told it to Scott before her death in 1990.
Stringer accompanied U.S. troops on their drive into Nazi Germany, was the first correspondent to enter the liberated Nordhausen concentration camp and covered the April 1945 linkup of U.S. and Soviet armies at the Elbe River.
"Stringer is one of the most glamorous reporters and pioneers, and yet she is unknown," Scott said during a recent phone call from his Ojai, Calif, home.
Well, almost. The introduction to Scott's book is written by retired broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite, who also worked for United Press during World War II and knew Stringer.
Forming a bond
Scott graduated from Kansas University in 1966 with majors in Russian/Soviet-East European studies and history. He worked as a Soviet analyst for the CIA from 1971 to 1973 and in the Gov. Robert Docking administration from 1973 to 1975. In 1975, he returned to KU as a graduate student and taught western civilization classes from 1975 to 1979.
In 1984, Scott moved to Ojai, where he teaches history at Pepperdine University, California State University-Northridge and several junior colleges. He is a board member of the Lawrence-based U.S.-Russian Foundation.
Scott first came in connect with Ann Stringer when he was editing "Yanks Meet Reds," a book of recollections of U.S. and Soviet veterans who met in 1945 at the Elbe River.
After Stringer began telling him her life story, Scott suggested that she write a book. Stringer, however, was dealing with the debilitating effects of a stroke. So Scott offered to write the book if Stringer would share her stories with him. He used his own money to publish the book.
"I felt a certain kinship with Stringer," he said. "She desperately wanted to have (her anecdotes) published. It was her dying wish."
Ann Stringer had been married to Bill Stringer, a reporter for Reuters. He was killed in 1944 in France while attempting to become the first Allied war correspondent to enter liberated Paris. He was posthumously awarded a Medal of Freedom.
A possible movie deal
"Bravo, Amerikanski" may be heading to the silver screen.
The book was optioned in 1988 to Longbow Productions in Studio City, Calif. Longbow produced such films as "A League of Their Own," with Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell and Geena Davis.
However, Longbow eventually decided not to shoot the movie, citing the nation's lack of interest in World War II. But in recent years things have changed, thanks to movies like "Private Ryan" starring Tom Hanks and books like Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation."
Scott said a Los Angeles producer is trying to raise money to make "Bravo, Amerikanski!" into a film.
"It's not a done deal, but prospects seem encouraging," he said.
Americans are looking for luminaries like Ann and Bill Stringer, Scott said.
"I think the country needs heroes," he said. "World War II gave us clear lines of good and bad; the men who fought that war were committed and solid."