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My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times Hardcover – November 5, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Old-school newspapering comes alive in this scintillating memoir. Anglo-American journalist Evans (The American Century) reminisces about his rise up the ladder of English newspapers to its pinnacle as editor of the Sunday Times and his late-career hop across the ocean to run Condé Nast Traveler and the publisher Random House. The author depicts British journalism as a more rugged affair than the American version; editor Evans dodges British laws that permit prior restraint of news stories by the government, gets sued by the Irish Republican Army and battles a thuggish printers' union that he hates even more than he does his boss, Rupert Murdoch. America presents its own unique hardships, including protracted discussions with Marlon Brando over acquiring his memoirs, during which the blowsy thespian accuses Evans of being a CIA agent. Evans creates a lively, evocative portrait of 20th-century journalism: the mad deadline pressure of the copy-desk, stocked with Dickensian characters; the epic investigative pieces that make reporting a kind of spy craft; the obsessive pull of editorial crusades against official wrongdoing. Written with self-deprecating humor and quiet conviction, this is a fine valedictory for a heroic style of journalism one hopes still has a future. Photos. (Nov. 5)
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GREAT PRAISE FOR MY PAPER CHASE:
"[My Paper Chase] is a fight song that revels in the music of times past...It celebrates bygone glories and dwells on the truths of good journalism that still obtain." (New York Times Book Review David Carr)
"Not only is [My Paper Chase] a loving homage to the joys of old-fashioned British newspapering, but it has allowed Mr. Evans to tell at proper length stories that should now be taught as classics in journalism schools worldwide."
(New York Times Simon Winchester)
"Despite the title, Evans's memoir is more than relevant in the age of computer news; good reporting still demands what Evans exemplifies here-honesty, courage and dogged determination." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Old school newspapering comes alive in this scintillating memoir. Evans creates a lively, evocative portrait of 20th-century journalism...Written with self-deprecating humor and quiet conviction, this is a fine valedictory for a heroic style of journalism one hopes still has a future." (Publishers Weekly)
"A refreshing memoir...[Evan's] jettisons hand-wringing over the 'vanished times' of its melancholy subtitle for one man's unquenchable enthusiasm for his life's work... My Paper Chase is the Gospel of Evans, and the gospel makes juicy copy." (Christian Science Monitor Justin Moyer)
"Engaging...In this readable, almost wistful memoir, Sir Harold Evans remains the rare self-made Englishman who changed British journalism." (The Washington Post Leonard Downie Jr.)
"Evocative and enjoyable...Evans has a young man's perennial enthusiasm: he is 81 going on 18. Reading his autobiography, one quickly grasps how he became the most successful editor of his generation. He exudes a combination of boundless enthusiasm, relentless energy and an almost childlike delight in the sheer wonderfulness of newspapers. How can they not survive? ...one feels the warmth of his sunny personality even as the lights seem to be going out in much of print journalism. He saw the best of it - o, lucky man!" (The Times Robert Harris)
[My Paper Chase] is a work of extravagant exuberance. It is tough, optimistic, full of verve and friendship, written with clarity and energy, and goes like a train..." (The Telegraph Melvyn Bragg)
""Inspiring" is an overused word. My Paper Chase truly is. Anyone who feels cynical about public life in general, and journalists in particular, should drink down this wonderful book in a single gulp. Harry Evans was the great crusader of the twentieth century British press. His memoir, which is also jaw-dropping social history, is the best education possible in what true journalism's all about." (BBC Andrew Marr)
"SIR Harold "Harry" Evans remains one of the great figures of modern journalism. For this reason, and because the kind of campaigning, reporting-based work he stood for is threatened as never before, his autobiography, written as he turned 80, is both gripping and timely." (The Economist)
"Like many others I was lucky to have worked with him. His book is illuminating and entertaining on his personal history and it gives a valuable record of what used to be known as English provincial life; more vital then, perhaps than now. But the important reason to read it is that it tells you how good newspapers were once made and why they still matter." (The Guardian Ian Jack)
Top customer reviews
His career in the US hasn't been as focused as it was in London, being defined by his work at The Sunday Times, so the US portion of the book including his work at US News and World Report, Conde Naste Traveller, book publishing etc wasn't as interesting to me.
All in all it's amazing to read all his accomplishments as a journalist, a crusading, impatient with the status quo journalist and editor, I should say. His books are equally impressive, from the "Pictures on a Page" (a journalist and picture editors text book from the 1970's), up to his most recently produced, and brilliantly illustrated, "Century" book. He ends this memoir, not on a "sigh" for the good old days, but rather the understanding that people want and need reliable information. That is still important and will be in the future, whether they get this information on a printed sheet, or a tablet computer.
It is when Mr. Evans relates stories of his various editorships that this memoir to me is most interesting. The noble crusade over the thalidomide children, the concern over the a foreign correspondent who may have died due to ties with an intelligence service, and the difficulty of dealing with old style labor unions on Fleet Street; this is the solid core of Mr. Evan's book.
Less interesting is the material presented on Mr. Evans own early or late personal life: he not being a notable and lasting figure in any great sense. Meanwhile, his prose style, while good, does not enjoy being blessed with the highest of literary gifts.
This is a book that will do well on the talk show circuit and in paperback, but probably will not be widely read after this season.