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Literary Criticism Review    

Charles Kuralt's PEOPLE:
A collection of award-winning stories by Charles Kuralt
edited and compiled by Ralph Grizzle
Kenilworth Media, 2002
Hardcover, $25.95 (359 pages)
ISBN:  0-9679096-1-9

Sometimes the best way to study the body of a writer’s work is to look back at the beginning as he/she developed his/her voice and style.  For Charles Kuralt, best known for his CBS “On the Road” segments, it is important to return to 1956 when the 22 year-old reporter was a columnist for the Charlotte News.  In that remarkable year, Kuralt’s “People” column featured the ordinary men and women of North Carolina with Kuralt’s blend of humor and heart.  The 169 columns of “People” brought Charles Kuralt recognition, when he was awarded the 1956 Scripps-Howard Ernie Pyle Memorial Award, which goes to a journalist whose writing and style “most nearly exemplifies the style and craftsmanship of the great World War II reporter and human interest columnist.” 

The collection works as a time capsule of North Carolina in 1956.  There are heartwarming stories like Martha Farmer finding love in a bus station, then going to buy a new dress for a date.  Stories that reflect the changing climate in Civil Rights as Bob Raiford is fired from WBT for airing opinions about an attack on Nat “King” Cole in Birmingham, Alabama.  Humorous stories reflecting southern culture, such as the Great Shoeshining Contest. 

The columns may have been lost to obscurity on microfilm, if Ralph Grizzle hadn’t decided to publish this collection.  Charles Kuralt’s PEOPLE is filled with the makings for instant smiles.


Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

© 2002, Joyce Dixon, Southern Scribe Reviews