Veteran journalist Kosner offers a meaty memoir that begins with his geeky childhood and ends with his retirement from the New York Daily News.
The author opens his debut with what he calls “the worst thing that ever happened to me”: his firing from Newsweek by Katharine Graham. He later deals with this incident much more thoroughly, but at this point, Kosner turns back to explore his boyhood. He was very bright, wore glasses and was tormented, he says, offering some nostalgic glimpses of summers in Long Beach, visits to museums and the Automat. His journalism career began at P.S. 173, where he edited the mimeographed school newspaper. Next: Bronx High School of Science, where he had trouble with science. Then: City College, where Kosner found his calling on the college paper. He discovered he had the faculties needed for journalism: a news sense, the ability to produce good copy on deadline, tirelessness. His first job was with the New York Post. Soon he was a husband and father, but his profession made it difficult for him to be home much; the marriage suffered and then ended. He moved to Newsweek in 1963, rose through the ranks, got fired in 1979 due in part to his own management failures, which he candidly acknowledges. Meanwhile, he’d met wife number two and embarked on a much more successful union. Kosner’s happiest years were at New York magazine; he got along well with owner Rupert Murdoch and lunched with literary celebrities, but left when the magnate sold the magazine to a vulpine bunch of bottom-liners. Then it was Esquire, but he could not resuscitate the moribund monthly. And finally, the Daily News. Mort Zuckerman, the author says, was the worst owner he ever worked for. Kosner doesn’t quit soon enough, appending a superfluous pile of chestnuts about life that he recently offered at a high-school commencement. And bloggers, he sniffs, are “assholes with opinions.”
A compelling chronicle that follows a journalist—and journalism—from the age of typewriters to the era of BlackBerries.