These are the sort of unaffected, scrapbookish reminiscences that are apt to remain in family possession and emerge, years...


IPHIGENE: The Memoirs of lphigene Ochs Sulzberger of The New York Times Family

These are the sort of unaffected, scrapbookish reminiscences that are apt to remain in family possession and emerge, years later, as a ""find."" But Mrs. Sulzberger, matriarch of the newspaper clan, was well advised (by granddaughter Susan Dryfoos) to proceed into print. We hear about ""Papa"" Adolph Ochs--publisher of the Chattanooga Times at age 20, purchaser of the ""respected but dying"" New York Times at 35--and a little about Mama's family, the Cincinnati Wises (grandfather was noted Reform rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise). We learn what it was like to grow up in New York at the turn of the century (Mrs. S. was born in 1892)--and to live to see favorite childhood paintings, ""dramatic"" and ""realistic,"" restored to the walls of the Metropolitan. But mostly we see how it was to be the adored only child of Adolph Ochs--of whom much was also expected--and the fÉted (sometimes badgered) daughter of the Times publisher. Mrs. Sulzberger had no trouble, it appears, holding her own: at twelve, she was expelled from school for ""insubordination""; still in her twenties, she blocked plans to name a publisher pro tern when her father had a nervous breakdown (brought on by public hostility toward a WV/ I Times editorial perceived as unpatriotic). And her father didn't think much of Arthur Hays Sulzberger, initially, as a son-in-law. Mrs. Sulzberger tells how her husband occupied himself at the Times by becoming an expert on newsprint, then ""made a practice of taking up what others let slide."" Upon her father's death, she had no hesitation in supporting him as ""the best man for the job"" of publisher. But this easeful existence was not trouble-free: three of the four Sulzberger children--variously plagued by ""educational innovations,"" dyslexia, and plain inertia--were spectacularly poor students (including son Punch, the present Times publisher). Mrs. S. is utterly unselfconscious about such matters--or about her guilt at not having ""signed for"" unknown German Jews (in addition to relatives) seeking American asylum in the Thirties. She's also fiercely loyal--to Robert Moses (""the best parks commissioner we ever had,"" the Times to the contrary); to one-time classmate/beau and long-time Nationalist Chinese official Hollington Ton (to whom, she feels, historians have not been fair). The Sulzbergers' high-level contacts are also reflected in tales of dinner-table gaffes, remarkable encounters, red-carpet travels. What is out-of-the-ordinary, though, is the ladylike outspokenness.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dodd, Mead

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1981