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The Time of Their Lives: The Golden Age of Great American Book Publishers, Their Editors and Authors

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  13 reviews

The golden age of book publishing, Al Silverman informs us with utter certainty, began in 1946 and lasted into the late 1970s and early 1980s. In his intimate history of those years, Silverman sets out to prove this sweeping conceit by relying on the eyes and ears and memories of the men and women who were there creating that history. Without inhibition, more than 120 of

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Hardcover, 498 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Truman Talley Books
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Ryan Chapman
Sep 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Friends in the publishing industry
Shelves: nonfiction
A comprehensive primer on the "golden age" of publishing in America, with several amusing anecdotes. Silverman keeps to a hagiographic tone throughout, lovingly recounting how risky moves paid off for editors and publishers, and passing over the bad times. In fact, he doesn't once mention a grand failure, as if it would forever taint the editor's name in the annals of history. You can imagine how rose-colored the lens of the book then becomes as you read on. Despite this, it's a nice 101 for ...more
Jeff
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great history of book publishing in the last half of the 20th century. The book is divided by chapters on each of the big publishing companies.
Juliana
"The only thing I can imagine worse than the book business today is the book business tomorrow."-Robert Gottlieb

Silverman shares the history and interviews the publishers and editors at many of the biggest publishers of the 20th century. You learn about how each publisher got its start, how they ran their lists and you learn a bit more about the important editors.

Fascinating that there are so many that started--and the majority of them in this book are now part of the Big Five Publishers.

What
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Jessica
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Reading this book is like having your bigoted, misogynistic, yet ultimately harmless great-uncle corner you at a family reunion to bore you with stories of the old days. Pros: it is valuable as a genealogy of American publishing houses, told by someone who worked in publishing and understood its intricacies. Cons: it is too sensationalistic (all men are "great men" and "literary giants" who "held court" working in "mighty, legendary publishing houses"), and women's contributions, when they are ...more
Crystal
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A really solid overview of the good ol' days of book publishing, mainly set in New York, covering the major editors, authors, and heads of company's of the times. Silverman is a great story teller providing a vivid and thoroughly researched portrait not just of the big figures in publishing but also capturing the atmosphere of the publishing houses themselves. If you're new to publishing it's a great primer on who was who (though many of the big names are still very alive and still publishing) ...more
David Friedman
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: peope interested in the book insdustry
"One thing I almost forgot about the rise and fall of the golden age described here. It began to falter not when the book publishers who loved books gave way to those who preferred profits to reading. It happened when publishers and editors began cutting back on their drinking. If there is one national flower in book publishing, it is the martini." I have to have a martini whenever I'm reading this one.
Jason
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Who would have thought that a book about publishing would be this FANTASTIC! I flew this incredibly readable set of histories of the major publishing houses. Anyone who like books will love this inside look at who puts them out, why they put them out and all the colorful characters encountered in the process. I just adored this book!
Richard Wheeler
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed the anecdotal story of American publishing in its golden age, the bright and noble and naughty authors, and the flashes of genius that dazzled readers and reviewers. The author was there, and he tells us about it with measured prose and judicious judgment.
David
Sep 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Nothing particularly wonderful about the writing, but this is a great overview of the publishing industry during its "golden age" (like, from WWII through to the early 80s, when the conglomerates moved in in earnest). Lots of great anecdotes...
John Tintera
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Breezy, but a wonderful primer to the Golden Age of 20th Century publishing from a person who was there. Read this together with Ted Striphas' 5-star book 'The Late Age of Print' and 'Merchants of Culture' by John Thompson and you will have an M.S. in book publishing.
Deanna
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! Loved reading all the behind-the-scenes stories of the industry. Made me wish I'd been part of it back then.
Joseph Bieron
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fo
Ken
Feb 24, 2013 added it
An absolutely delightful and gossipy visit to the post-WWII publishing world including many old friends.
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“The patron saint of Viking could not stand editors who claimed to have discovered an author. “The author is not a discovery,” Huebsch always insisted. “The author is the discoverer.” Maybe so, but I still maintain that it is the editor who has to dig out the pearl in the sand pile and clean it up.)” 0 likes
“ONE THING I almost forgot about the rise and fall of the golden age described here. It began to falter not when the book publishers who loved books gave way to those who preferred profits to reading. It happened when publishers and editors began cutting back on their drinking.” 0 likes
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