From Publishers Weekly
Boyd's appointment to the role of managing editor of the New York Times
in 2001 made him the first African-American to hold one of the paper's top two editing positions, and his leadership helped the Times
garner numerous Pulitzers. But colleagues found him gruff and imposing—a perception he attributed to racial bias—and he was forced to resign after a young reporter named Jayson Blair was caught plagiarizing and fabricating stories in 2003. In this memoir, Boyd, who died in 2006, comes across as a relentlessly ambitious man who overcame poverty, racism, and a rocky personal life to become one of the most powerful newsmen of his day. Unfortunately, Boyd proves to be a merely competent narrator: the prose is smooth but lacks flair, and the vignettes themselves are disappointingly dry. The notable exception is the treatment of the Blair scandal: Boyd's blow-by-blow is animated by indignation and gives a rare glimpse into the rancorous world of newsroom politics. Although as a source of objective truth the memoir is more suspect than a news story, Boyd's perspective is crucial to understanding the crisis that unfolded at the Times
in 2003. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Boyd’s brilliant career as a journalist, from a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch rising to managing editor of the New York Times, will unfortunately be remembered for the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal in 2003. In this powerful memoir, Boyd recalls his climb from poverty, love of journalism, and thirst for racial equality. From his college days, Boyd challenged the limitations set for minorities in journalism, helping to develop scholarships and training programs for minorities interested in journalism. But the newspaper he most loved proved to be the greatest challenge to his convictions. Boyd recalls racial animosity in the newsroom, tensions that came to a boil when he and Executive Editor Howell Raines were blamed as Blair’s transgressions came to light and threatened the credibility of the venerable New York Times. Boyd, under whose tenure the paper won 10 Pulitzer Prizes, lays bare his own insecurities, the massive egos of some colleagues, and internecine battles over news coverage. He recalls his struggle to recover from his fall from grace as the first black editor of the paper in its 150-year history and with cancer (which took his life in 2006). Photographs, recollections of friends and colleagues, and an afterword by Boyd’s widow, writer Robin Stone, add further dimension to this poignant memoir and candid look at race and newsgathering. --Vanessa Bush