THE LAST DAYS OF THE NEW YORKER by Gigi Mahon

THE LAST DAYS OF THE NEW YORKER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A thorough account of the takeover of The New Yorker by S.I. Newhouse, Jr.: despite the lack of cooperation from many principals, Mahon has pieced together a satisfying and often funny tale. A writer for New York magazine, Mahon lays out the relevant history that positioned the magazine for takeover: Harold Ross, founding the publication, backed by bakery scion Raoul Fleischman; the Fleischmann family, next represented by son Peter, allowing Ross' successor, William Shawn, complete sway (e.g., deciding what ads to accept); and the conscious decision to ignore the taste of the hoi polloi, making The New Yorker a hugely successful advertising vehicle but fomenting the division between editorial and business--which left writers and editors uninformed and defenceless when Newhouse moved in. The meat of the book is the detailed story of how and why a family-controlled corporation thought to be unassailable was targeted as prey by one of the world's largest media moguls, and quickly devoured. In the final pages, Newhouse and new publisher Steve Florio promise that nothing will change, then proceed to fire William Shawn (old now, but the soul of the magazine still) and install Robert Gottlieb of Knopf (another Newhouse property), creating the literary cause cÉlÉbre of the season. More in the style of New York magazine than the The New Yorker, full of wellchosen details and revealing portraits, Mahon's chronicle is entertaining throughout: a juicy story done justice.

Pub Date: Dec. 19th, 1988
Publisher: McGraw-Hill