POSTSCRIPT WITH A CHINESE ACCENT: Memoirs and Diaries 1972-1973 by C.L. Sulzberger

POSTSCRIPT WITH A CHINESE ACCENT: Memoirs and Diaries 1972-1973

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The latest batch of informal memoirs by the Paris-based columnist of the New York Times, Cy Sulzberger, who is also an unofficial feeler-outer and rumor-floater for the U.S. government or factions thereof. Sulzberger gets to China at the end of the book, in the fall of 1973; he appraises the goldfish and beer and Mongolian archaeology -- and Chou En-lai urges a strong American front against the Soviets. The visit comes as a mere episode in Sulzberger's endless globe-hoppings and name-droppings. ""I asked how the profession of kings had changed in modern times"" is the motif of the book, although Sulzberger consorts with commoners too -- Malraux, who solemnly warns him that Chou doesn't always tell the truth; Richard Helms, an old friend; President Marcos of the Philippines, whose martial law and neocolonial role are cheerfully acknowledged; the conservative Greek politician Caramanlis; and on several occasions Henry Kissinger. The latter underlines the soft reaction of Moscow and Peking to the January 1973 bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong while providing such profound leaks as ""If it were not for the POW's in the North we could get out."" Sulzberger's little digs at his Times colleagues are notable: he records that John Oakes told him, ""You don't realize the [low] intellectual level of our readers,"" while Kissinger is quoted thus: ""You mustn't ever retire. You're the only one on the Times. Even Reston goes with the wind. . . ."" Sulzberger's tournure as a memoirist is to dwell on the relative plumpness and alcohol consumption of each royal or otherwise ruling personage while he strews around American slang like ""crummy,"" ""full of beans"" and ""really something"" to graciously alleviate our vertigo at being allowed access to such high circles. The book is something, but not really.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Macmillan