The World of Swope by E.J. Kahn

The World of Swope

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E.J. Kahn prefaces his biography of Herbert Bayard Swops with a statement about doing as opposed to being. ""Some men,"" he says, ""become memorable by doing something special...Some become memorable by being something spectal...Others achieve renown in a harder way - by being somebody special...He (Swope) was a Somebody."" The uninitiated reader will probably scan these opening remarks, dismissing them as aphorism; the initiated will ruminate over them as very particular truth. For despite the fact that Swope held many estimable positions-- he was a newspaperman, the executive editor of the New York World in its salad days, Consultant to a Secretary of War, New York State Racing Commissioner, advisor to politicians, and financiers, and industrialists-- he was more expertly and more significantly Swope: a stentorian, egocentric, hypersensitive, arrogant, omniscient, catalytic, role-playing character who succeeded, as few of us can, in wearing his own skin. He was professionally Herbert Bayard Swope, a kind of existential whore who preferred nothing but himself. Kahn's biography is perceptive as opposed to intimate, reflective instead of psychoanalytic. It begins with Just enough of the beginning and ends with a rending story of the man in his twilight years, committing with increasing frequency that most unpardonable of infinitives ""to bore,"" who picks up a crosswomd puzzle, fills in the blank of Herbert_____Swope with characteristic red crayon, pastes it in his scrapbook, and rests assured that he is not forgotten completely...A thorough enough subtle, and well-written book.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster