August 24, 2020

A pillar of the antiwar movement, Diana Johnstone provides critical insights from her time working in Associated Press and AFP newsrooms in the US and Europe and much more.


Diana Johnstone has written a compelling and insightful book. It is mostly a review and analysis of significant events from the past 55 years and concludes with her assessment of different trends that are being debated on the Left today, including “identity politics,” Antifa, and censorship. This is a book to be read, enjoyed, and discussed

The book, “Circle in the Darkness: Memoir of a World Watcher,” gives glimpses into Johnstone’s personal life. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Johnstone grew up there and in Washington DC. She studied and taught at the University of Minnesota before moving to Europe where she spent most of her life – mostly in France with stints in Germany and Italy.

Her parents divorced when she was young and she had a special love and connection with her father who, somewhat ironically, was a Pentagon analyst. Evidently, he also had an open and critical mind, writing the memoir “From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning.”

Johnstone had a daughter at a young age and raised her largely on her own. She finished her Ph.D. in French literature and then worked as a teacher, translator, photographer, and journalist.

As Johnstone and her daughter moved between Minnesota and France, she compared their educational systems and notes, “There is a tendency in American grade schools for the kids to gang up against whichever unfortunate schoolmate has been selected by class bullies for tormenting ….. from my observation it is not like this in France.” She also describes the difficulties of being a single mother before it was more common.

Johnstone’s book is full of insights based on her first-hand experience living in Yugoslavia as a young exchange student, working as a photographer for the Associated Press, translating news reports for Agence France Presse, reporting on the end of the Cold War for In These Times and working as a press officer for the coalition of Green Parties in the newly formed European Union.