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My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times Hardcover – November 5, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



"[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)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (November 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316031424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316031424
  • ASIN: 0316031429
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's probably unfair to say that Harold Evans has led a charmed life, but there's ample support for that conclusion in this spirited memoir of his diverse career in newspapers and publishing. The story of his rise from a working class background in Manchester, England to the heights of British journalism is a briskly and skillfully told tale of hard work, a healthy dose of luck and an unflagging commitment to the highest standards of the profession he has pursued with admirable intensity for more than half a century.

From his days as a 16-year-old working on the Ashton-under-Lyne Reporter, Evans seemed to have newspapers in his blood. Overcoming his share of Britain's class prejudice as he scrambled up journalism's equivalent of Disraeli's "greasy pole," he displayed a healthy appetite for the grunt work that brought him to the attention of superiors who offered him positions of increasing responsibility along the way until he became editor, in 1961, of the stodgy Darlington Northern Echo, a regional paper in England's northeast. In that role, he launched a series of investigative campaigns that served as the model for the more far-reaching and dramatic ones he would pursue when he moved to London.

Evans astutely grasped early in his career that "transmitting information is easier than creating understanding," and throughout, he devoted himself to stimulating readers and provoking them to action. Although it's apparent he possessed rich stores of self-confidence to sustain him in the rough and tumble world of British journalism, there's a nice air of self-deprecation in observations like this one, attributed to one of his colleagues: "The only qualities essential for real success in journalism are rat-like cunning, a plausible manner, and a little literary ability.
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It's a heck of a good read, containing a lot of modern historical references which throw ones mind back over the last 60 years. Its history of 20th century journalism and printing may be an obituary, but I agree with the author that eventually a combination of printing and internet may be developed. Hope so. D H
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Format: Hardcover
Harold Evan's was editor of the Sunday Times in the Seventies, perhaps its greatest period. I grew up reading the paper and was, for a while, influenced by its world view. His previous autobiography `Good Times, Bad Times' was, largely, a description of his falling out with Rupert Murdoch when Murdoch took over the Times newspaper group, and, in my view, suffered on that account.
This book is a wider view, and takes in Evan's youth and internship in newspapers, as well as the aftermath of the Times years. Unlikely his previous work, I really liked this book. His dad was a railway driver, the aristocracy of workingmen in the Thirties; his mother was a very thrifty shopkeeper. In Evan's rise to editorship, you can see the formation of his views on meritocracy and his respect for establishment. There is a fascinating piece on the composition of a story on a railcrash, using the technology of the day, where wirereports were telegraphed in and Evans had to compose the story for various editions; sticking to established facts when it would be easy to anticipate or exaggerate, bound by the manual technology of the time and by deadlines. You'd probably enjoy the book for this section alone.
His illustrates his view that `there are no small stories' by telling of a Bangledeshi journalist who took notice of the missing children stories which were legion in the teeming Calcutta slums. These were largely ignored by society at the time. The Journalist uncovered an organised campaign of unspeakable cruelty. I have noticed a number of stories about missing children in Ireland in the recent past, and have been beguiled by the general view that these are children of immigrants who perhaps have returned home or so on.... but is this the case?
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Format: Hardcover
Harold Evans' My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times appears a bit intimidating at first, if only because of the breadth, depth, and heft of it. But Harold Evans' writing flows, I found myself thoroughly engrossed. Born in 1928 from working class parents, Evans became a reporter at sixteen. His natural ability, drive, tenacity, and nose for a good story led him not just to excel in his field but to take on unrecognized and unpopular causes and to sway public opinion. One of the book's greatest strengths is the extent to which Evans gives us the background and context for each of the events or stories that he shares.

At the start, Evans delves into his own background. His father had little formal education but was a genius at numbers. For instance, if you named a date whether it was 25 years ago or just a few months, his father could unerringly identify which day of the week it was. He worked his way up at the railway, beginning as an engine cleaner to the position of driver. His ability to calculate how much a person's wages would be, taking into account the different wage scales, overtime, deductions, and irregular hours, was recognized in his company's accounting staff and won him the gratitude and affection of his colleagues at the railway. Evans points out that in England at that time, his father's mathematical abilities, even coupled with hard work, would not have afforded him better opportunities because of "the Geddes axe." Sir Eric Geddes, a.k.a. Lord Inchcape, a Minister of the Crown and the former manager of the North Eastern Railway Company, had a strong contempt for the abilities of the working class.
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