Diana Bagnall reviews 'The New Yorker Book of the 60s: Story of a decade' edited by Henry Finder

Diana Bagnall reviews 'The New Yorker Book of the 60s: Story of a decade' edited by Henry Finder

The New Yorker Book of the 60s: Story of a decade

edited by Henry Finder

William Heinemann $69.99 hb, 705 pp, 9780434022434

Journalism is on the back foot. That’s putting it kindly. Hundreds of newspapers and thousands of careers have been consigned to the great media burial ground since the dawning of the digital age. Those still standing operate in a climate of deepening mistrust. From Trump’s America to Erdoğan’s Turkey, demagogues saddled with democratic political systems trumpet their scorn of so-called media elites.

Among those that refuse to die is The New Yorker magazine. Founded in 1925 as a ‘comic weekly’ under Harold Ross, it has proven remarkably durable with its signature blend of long-form journalism, highbrow criticism, poetry, fiction, and humour. I have my doubts about the wisdom of letting out into the world this superb collection of New Yorker pieces from the 1960s. Those were the glory days. In an era when so much ‘content’ is counted in characters, this is like looking at the ruins of the Parthenon and asking, what happened?

The 1960s were a different country. The New Yorker’s pages were stuffed with high-end advertising that paid the bills. Here is one example of how good the good times were when they rolled. In 1959, William Shawn (editor from 1952 to 1987) gave the novelist and essayist James Baldwin an advance to make a trip to Africa. Baldwin was a busy man, so he didn’t make it to Africa until 1962. On coming home, he decided he had more important things to write about than Africa.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in March 2017, no. 389
Diana Bagnall

Diana Bagnall

Diana Bagnall worked as a staff writer for The Bulletin magazine, Vogue Australia and the New Zealand Herald. As a freelancer, she has contributed to The Monthly, Monocle, The Observer and Australian Geographic. She is co-author of a memoir, Destined to Live, by Sabina Wolanski. She lives in Sydney.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.