VIEW FROM THE 40th FLOOR by Theodore H. White


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A business novel with a difference, oddly enough the same difference that characterized The Mountain Road and set it apart from others of its kind, namely, that a central character for whom one had little respect at the start, grew in stature as the challenge of events overwhelmed him. In this case the man in Warren, who has been brought to New York from a top job in Washington to bring to life two dying magazines, part of a network that had once been powerful. To Warren it all seemed a mechanical problem:- production, circulation, advertising- and then something to say. But it wasn't enough, as friends of the old order tried to tell him. It took perilous teetering on the edge of bankruptcy; risky manipulation of funds, yes, even Social Security reserves; stalling off of clamoring creditors, their unpaid bills soaring into the millions; cozening the sources of Big Money; pursuing the will-o-the-wisp of benefactors, willing to take the long gamble. And perhaps, hardest of all, withstanding the blandishments, the temptations offered by those who stood to gain if the magazines folded, and could milk the ultimate profits from stock transactions, and were willing to close their eyes to human sacrifice. And throughout the struggle one traces many threads of subplots, involving the workers- and their ultimate stand for their rights, their security, their identity as people who had given a lifetime of service to the dying magazines. But White never makes one feel that it was all worth it, except in human terms. The world of mass communication -- advertising, TV, magazines, etc.- seems a shoddy one, evading the responsibility and slithering along on pap-feeding an indifferent public. The book is off to a slow start, but gathers momentum, though the average reader, to whom the inside picture is an unfamiliar one, may bog down in minutiae. The characters, from Board members down to proofreaders, come alive, during the tense days when the fate of the two magazines hangs in the balance. There is a slight thread of romance, unimportant in the overall picture. The story is really the life- and death -- of The Trumpet. Literary Guild selection will take it over the hurdle of its masculinity for the feminine contingent.

Publisher: Morrow-Sloane