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About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  18 reviews
For more than seven decades, the New Yorker has been the embodiment of urban sophistication and literary accomplishment, the magazine where the best work of virtually every prose giant of the century first appeared. With all the authority and elegance such a subject demands, Yagoda tells the fascinating story of the tiny journal that grew into a literary enterprise of epic ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published March 5th 2001 by Da Capo Press (first published February 28th 2000)
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It was a funny thing with this book. I read the first 100 pages or so and enjoyed most of it quite a bit, but then I suddenly started getting tired of some of the minutia about the intra-editor correspondence and then I even started getting tired of the correspondence between the editors and the authors. And it was getting kind of repetitive. So I abandoned it kind of abruptly. But before I could complete abandon it, I had to go through the very copious and detailed index, and by the time I was ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book about The New Yorker through the decades (from its inception in 1925 through 1999). It made me want to read some of the articles that Ben Yagoda talked about and excerpted in this book. I realized that through my subscription I can actually go online in the archives back to 1925. It will be interesting to see the differences between the early years and now.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Though not named as such, this is basically the history of The New Yorker magazine, official or otherwise. Comprehensive and readable, it covers the heyday of the magazine and sweeps through its transformation from highbrow humor magazine to journalistic powerhouse. From it I added many items to my reading list, which grows longer and longer largely because if the magazine itself. Sadly, my chances of reading through the entire archives grow dimmer by the day. But everyone needs a dream.
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'll be honest, I didn't read past the first chapter. Being a big fan of James Thurber, Garrison Keillor, and Calvin Trillin (and the New Yorker itself), I thought it would be interesting to read about the history of the magazine. The first chapter gives an account of a survey the author sent to New Yorker readers to find out what they liked/did not like about the magazine, and many of those readers' memories of how they grew to love the magazine. In other words, a veritable New Yorker love-fest ...more
Dec 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing, nonfiction
Would recommend: Yes, but only to someone who is really interested

I know, could I be any more wishy-washy? I think someone who is very invested in the history of The New Yorker would enjoy this book; it's incredibly well-researched, and knowing the background story makes the current magazine make a lot of sense. But for those who prefer a less, ah, dense telling, this book is not for you, and that's okay. There are a lot of books out there chronicling people's experiences with this publication,
Maurynne  Maxwell
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Far better than the Flannery bio, I think because of the author's emotional connection to the subject. It has inspired me to start re-reading White's essays and some Thurber. I read all that stuff, and Benchley, etc. when I was a kid, inspired by, of course, The New Yorker. Reading all this history has just made me exclaim once again plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. Government, check. Corporations, check. Though I think some social progress has been made through the centuries, I don't s ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I've read about the New Yorker before, but this book astounded me in its detail. In an even-handed approach, the author let documentation (what memos!) and conversations with writers speak for themselves.

I was surprised to learn that I unknowingly had read New Yorker writers at the age of about 10 or 11 years (Fashion is Spinach, which contained an infamous cartoon, and H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N), and the book led me through reminiscence of my entire reading life.

That's all for now. I have to go fin
Mar 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 stars. I haven't read any other New Yorker history books, so I can't compare this one to any of them. It was interesting material, for the most part, just a little dull or dry in places. I enjoyed reading about certain writers' journeys to get their work into the magazine, as well as the editorial decisions that went into the text and the look of the publication, over the years. A decent read for fans of twentieth century literature, journalism, and publishing, so long as you don't expect ac ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
A great book made greater if you've ever read the "New Yorker", the "New Yorker Book of War Pieces", "Secret Ingredient", James Thurber's collections, essays by E.B.White, "Years with Ross", etc. It's long, 425 pages of history of a magazine started in 1925. (Most of those quotations should be underlinings or italics. They're books.)
Jun 02, 2011 rated it liked it
An interesting book, but not for people who don't already know some New Yorker history - Mr. Yagoda pretty much assumes that you have some context for White, Thurber, etc. Information on the last few decades is pretty scant.
I wanted to like this book. I was expecting all sorts of amusing stories and excerpts from the history of this singular magazine, but the book is bogged down by endless name-dropping and descriptions of who edited what on which day. It is worth skimming for some of the anecdotes.
Eva Gogola
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Glad I was in this mode for this title; it was quite good. It wove together some of my favorite things - writing, history and The New Yorker.

Read more:
Terence Manleigh
A wonderful history of "The New Yorker" - funny and absorbing.
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful history of my favourite magazine. Equal parts history and anecdotes, with a real feel for what The New Yorker is, and what it represents.
May 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: New Yorker fans, of course
Shelves: 2007
Loved getting the history of my favorite magazine. Plus, this must have been a pretty fun book to write.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
I love The New Yorker and hoped that this book would be as interesting as the magazine. Unfortunately, it wasn't.
Linda Maxie
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oddly enough, I've never been a reader of The New Yorker. I've been aware of the magazine since my teens and have read references to it quite often, but I've never sat down and actually read through a single issue. So it was surprising that I enjoyed this book so much--or maybe not surprising. Even in my teens, I read James Thurber's books with glee. I've loved E.B. White since my third-grade teacher read Charlotte's Web to our class. I am familiar with the writers and cartoonists of The New Yor ...more
Jul 17, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: own-a-copy
I haven't read this yet. I just found it again in my bookshelf. However, I look forward to reading it.
I originally picked this book up based on the sample of correspondence to the editor that was shown on the back of the dust jacket. Contributor John O'Hara wrote to request improved remuneration: "I want more money I want more money I want more money . . . " O'Hara then goes on to compare his contribution to that of other authors. A comment handwritten on the bottom of the letter from the admin
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Ben Yagoda (born 22 February 1954 in New York City) is a professor of journalism at the University of Delaware.

Born to Louis Yagoda and the former Harriet Lewis, he grew up in New Rochelle, New York and entered Yale University to study English in 1971. He became a freelance journalist for publications such as The New Leader, The New York Times, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone, and published a number o

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