2008-04-11: Ruth Gruber Receives Open Book Award from ASJA

April 11, 2008

American Society of Journalists and Authors Honors Ruth Gruber with Open Book Award

New York, NY -- The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has presented its Open Book Award to Ruth Gruber, a photojournalist and author who traveled throughout the world in pursuit of stories during a career that has spanned nearly 80 years.

The organization's Open Book award is given to honor those writers "who have acted on behalf of our society's most valued traditions of openness and choice," according to ASJA president Russell Wild. The award was presented to Ms. Gruber in a ceremony during the ASJA Annual Writers Conference, held in New York City earlier this month.

Gruber, 96, gained national attention after she earned a doctorate in 1932 at age 20, and was proclaimed the world's youngest Ph.D. She became a journalist soon afterwards, getting her first byline in The New York Times. In 1935, she became an international correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, and was the first foreign correspondent to fly through Siberia into the Soviet Arctic.

Gruber routinely reported on world events from far-flung, dangerous outposts that traditionally had been covered only by men, including fascism, communism, the rise of Hitler, the Nuremburg trials and the Soviet Gulag.

At the age of 33, she undertook a secret assignment for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and became a participant in history when she assisted the U.S. government by escorting 1,000 Jewish refugees and wounded American soldiers to the U.S. from Italy. Her book, Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1000 World War II Refuges and How They Came to America was based on that experience.

In 1947, Gruber went to the Middle East and interviewed Holocaust survivors whose ship, the Exodus 47, had been attacked entering the Haifa harbor by the British Navy, in their efforts to keep the refugees from reaching Palestine. She described their plight and treatment by the British in her 1948 book, Destination Palestine: The Story of the Haganah Ship Exodus 1947.

Gruber, who lives in New York City, is the author of 19 books. An autobiography, Witness: One of the Great Correspondents of the Twentieth Century Tells Her Story, was published last year.

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