Books by James D. Squires

Released: April 1, 2001

"A promising start, muddled middle, and heart-pounding finish."
Former Chicago Tribune editor Squires (The Secrets of the Hopewell Box, 1996, etc.), a horse breeder since 1990, relates how Lady Luck took a shine to his Two Bucks Farm and gave him a Kentucky Derby winner. Read full book review >
Released: March 6, 1996

A sometimes eye-goggling history of political corruption in one corner of the postwar South. Squires (Read All About It, 1993), a longtime political reporter for the Nashville Tennessean, was born into a family that exercised a modest amount of power in that small city; his grandfather was a sheriff's deputy who carried a gun and a clenched fist, a man whose talk with cronies was full of references to ``sonofabitching judges'' and ``goddamn niggers.'' He was also, Squires relates, one of the muscle men behind a vicious cabal of power brokers headed by one Boss Crump, ``a leader of the machine's gestapo, quick to violence, not only capable but guilty of killing in the interest of racism, corruption, and political power.'' That machine involved, for a time, much of Nashville's leading citizenry. It engineered elections, stole votes, organized lynch mobs, ran an illegal gambling empire, and in the 1950s, when it appeared that the traditional Democratic Party was going soft on civil rights, brokered the advent of Republicanism in one corner of the South, allowing that party a foothold that would later bring it to regional prominence. The growth of that machine, however, also inspired a backlash among Tennessee progressives that brought civil-rights issues to the forefront of Nashville politics some years before they would become a national concern. When those progressive elements finally accumulated enough support to break Boss Crump and his cohorts by reorganizing city hall into a less centralized metropolitan government, they helped open the door to Kennedy's Camelot, to organized labor, and to a new way of doing things. ``As political systems go,'' the author proudly writes, ``Tennessee's is now as truly diverse and free of prejudice as any in the country.'' Told in an easy, anecdotal style, Squires's complex story affords a microcosmic view of the nation's political evolution in the last half century. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1993

A trenchant and disturbing analysis of the transformation of newspapers from gatherers of news to profitable corporate assets, by the former editor of the Chicago Tribune. While sometimes reflecting outmoded attitudes—journalism is ``an oasis in the desert of capitalism''—Squires writes from a position of authority. The successful editor of the Orlando Sentinel and then of the Chicago Tribune at the time it won its battle with the Chicago Sun-Times, he describes himself in these posts as ``probably the most corporational, the least rigid, the most likely to compromise in the interest of getting all the masters served''; and yet he has become increasingly concerned by the changes in the newspaper industry. When he was first named an editor, in 1976, the average editorial department's share of revenue was 13-15 percent; today it's 10 percent at a good newspaper. Newspapers, Squires believes, no longer compete to produce the best journalism—which he defines as the most accurate portrayal of reality—but compete for the attention of consumers: ``What people want to read, watch and listen to is now more important in the evaluation of `news' than any of the more traditional considerations.'' The rot began, in Squire's view, with the triumph of the views of Al Neuharth of Gannett, who began hosting dinners for analysts and touting the contribution of newspapers to the bottom line. Increasingly, the author says, the notion of the separation between editorial and business has disappeared, other than in a few family-owned newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. The ``dirty little secret'' is that newspapers don't want circulation: They want advertising. Squires concludes that newspapers are becoming indistinguishable from any other business, and that they are losing the basic justification for their existence. A bleak view of the press by one who's in a position to know. Read full book review >