A.J. Liebling

From Academic Kids

A.J. Liebling (October 18, 1904 - December 28, 1963) was an American journalist who was closely associated with The New Yorker from 1935 until his death. He was one of the best-known and most widely admired journalists of his generation in the United States.

Liebling was born Abbott Joseph Liebling in New York City, into a well-off family. His father worked in New York's fur industry. His mother was from San Francisco. After early schooling in New York, Liebling was admitted to Dartmouth College in the fall of 1920. He left Dartmouth without graduating, later claiming he was "thrown out for missing compulsory chapel attendance". He then enrolled in the School of Journalism at Columbia University. After finishing there, he began his career as a journalist at the Evening Bulletin of Providence, Rhode Island. He worked briefly in the sports department of the New York Times, fired for listing the name "Ignoto" (Italian for "unknown") as the referee in results of games. He also worked for the New York World before going to Paris for several years. When he returned, he worked as a freelancer for the World.

Liebling joined The New Yorker in 1935. During World War II, he served as a war correspondent, filing many stories from Africa, England and Europe. He participated in the Normandy landings on D Day, and he wrote a memorable piece concerning his experiences on a landing craft. He was with the Allied forces when they entered Paris. He wrote afterwards: "For the first time in my life and probably the last, I have lived for a week in a great city where everybody was happy."

Following the war he returned to regular magazine fare and for many years after he wrote a New Yorker monthly feature called "Wayward Press", in which he analyzed the US press. Liebling was also an avid fan of boxing, horse racing and food, and frequently wrote about these subjects. In 1947 he published The Wayward Pressman, a collection of his writings from The New Yorker and other publications.

In 1961, Liebling published The Earl of Louisiana, originally published as a series of articles in The New Yorker in which he covered the trials and tribulations of the governor of Louisiana, Earl K. Long, the younger brother of the Louisiana politician Huey Long.

A collection of his writing was published in 2004 as Just Enough Liebling (ISBN 0374104436).

Liebling is chiefly remembered for many quotes and aphorisms, such as:

  • "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."
  • "People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news."
  • "I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better."

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