Reporters: The Sentimental Cynic

Damon Runyon died of cancer in 1946, after having contributed some 90 million words to the newspaper record of his time. Much of this prodigious output appeared in Hearst's old New York American, where Runyon in scribed such transitory events as prize fights, ball games, murder trials and wars. He may well have been the most-read U.S. journalist of his day, says Biographer Edwin P. Hoyt in A Gentle man of Broadway (Little, Brown & Co.; $6.95); but Hoyt argues convincingly that Reporter Runyon was also the most misread.

Broadway was Runyon's country. In his other career as a...