A Life of Privilege, Mostly


by: Botsford, Gardner
Format: Hardcover

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Product Description Gardner Botsford tells the fascinating and humorous story of his W.W. II experiences, from his assignment to the infantry due to a paperwork error to a fearful trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary, to landing under heavy fire on Omaha Beach and the Liberation of Paris. After the war, he began a distinguished literary career as a long-time editor at the New Yorker, and chronicles the magazine’s rise and influence on postwar American culture with wit and grace. From Publishers Weekly Botsford, a former New Yorker editor, pulls off a difficult balancing act in this graceful memoir. He covers brutal WWII experiences in highly charged, reportorial detail, then switches effortlessly to his wealthy, No?l Coward-flavored background. Beginning with his soldier days, he backtracks to his years at Yale and colorfully portrays his mother, Neysa McMein, a celebrated beauty and international heartbreaker who attracted such friends as Alexander Woolcott and George Abbott. Botsford's writing ability first surfaced with a humor column he wrote in college, and he began at the New Yorker as an underpaid contributor. The book, always compelling, becomes impossible to put down when he focuses on the legendary William Shawn. He describes the editor as "a hermetically sealed intellectual" and points out why the two formed a friendly but consistently uneasy alliance: Shawn "tiptoed through life as though through a minefield.... I was forever getting into fights, arguing with cab drivers.... I was wildly irrational." Despite Botsford's ambivalent feelings about his colleague, he tells the story of Tom Wolfe's scathing Shawn expos? in the New York Herald Tribune with unbiased clarity, making readers feel Shawn's despair at being publicly unmasked. The last section, in which Shawn fights against appointing a successor until Si Newhouse fires him, is a chilling demonstration of how desperately people cling to power. Beyond Botsford's precisely drawn, touching closeups of such authors as Maeve Brennan and A.J. Liebling, he makes readers understand an editor's life and responsibilities. His editorial rules of thumb provide enlightening material for readers and writers alike. Photos not seen by PW. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. From The New Yorker The "privilege" in the title of Botsford's gruffly stylish memoir is his upbringing as the son of a Midwestern heiress; "mostly" is his dry way of alluding to the Second World War. He served in the First Infantry Division (which lost more than twenty thousand men) and saw action at Omaha Beach and the Battle of the Bulge. Though he was "damn near killed," he finished the war a heavily decorated captain. Among the many miraculous coincidences of war—a bullet dodged, an old friend randomly encountered—Botsford had the good fortune to meet A. J. Liebling at the front. This came in handy when, after the war, Botsford became an editor—and, eventually, Liebling's editor—at The New Yorker: "Although it was an article of faith with him that all editors were incompetent losers, he must have decided to be nice to me as a gesture to the First Division." Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker From Booklist The exceptions to Botsford's cushy life (intimated by his book's title) are his experiences in World War II. He landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day, surviving only to be wounded by German artillery. Luck preserved him from the war's perils, however, permitting the author to return to his prewar job at the New Yorker. Reviewing four decades there as an editor, Botsford recalls with sophisticated insouciance his lunches and potations taken with such legendary personalities as Wolcott Gibbs, A. J. Liebling, and William Shawn during the magazine's heyday. That bemusement toward the world imbues his reminiscences and is reflected in his witty asides and observations; if subdued in the opening section about the war, the drollery is unbound in the succeeding passages about his wealthy upbringing in 19


Product Code: 9780312303433
ISBN: 0312303432
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 2003-01-17
Number of Pages: 272 pages
Languages: english
Edition: 1st
Dimension: 6.57 x 1.1 x 9.13 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pounds