Theodore H. White was an American political journalist and historian, known for his reporting from China during World War II and the Making of the President series.
White was born May 6, 1915, in Dorchester, Boston, the son of David White, a lawyer. He was raised Jewish.
Awarded a traveling fellowship for a round-the-world journey, White ended up in Chungking (Chongqing), China's wartime capital, and later became a freelance reporter after briefly starting out with the only job he could find: as an advisor to China's propaganda agency. When Henry R. Luce, the China-born founder and publisher of Time magazine, learned of White's expertise, he hired him and then came to China the following year, where the two became friends. White became the China correspondent for Time during World War II. He was the first foreign journalist to report the widespread Henan Famine. White chafed at the restrictions put on his reporting by the censorship of the Nationalist government, but he also chafed at the rewriting of his stories by the editors at TIME, one of whom was Whittaker Chambers.
With experience in analyzing foreign cultures from his time abroad, White took up the challenge of analyzing American culture with the books The Making of the President 1960 (1961), The Making of the President 1964 (1965), The Making of the President 1968 (1969), and The Making of the President 1972 (1973), all analyzing American presidential elections. The first of these was both a bestseller and a critical success, winning the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. It remains the most influential publication about the election that made John F. Kennedy the President. The later presidential books sold well but failed to have as great an effect, partly because other authors were by then publishing about the same topics, and White's larger-than-life style of storytelling became less fashionable during the 1960s and '70s.