For over a century, The New York Times has been an iconic institution in American journalism, one whose history is intertwined with the events that it chronicles—a newspaper read by millions of people every day to stay informed about events that have taken place across the globe. In The Times, Adam Nagourney, who's worked at The New York Times since 1996, examines four decades of the newspaper's history, from the final years of Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger's reign as publisher to the election of Donald Trump in November 2016.
It is something of a white-knuckle ride with — spoiler alert — a broadly happy ending ... It is not necessarily a book for those who have a favorite restaurant but would rather not know what goes on in the kitchen ... The perfect news organization has yet to be created, but there are a vanishingly small number willing to admit as much. It’s incredibly rare to encounter a newspaper, or broadcaster, prepared to apply the same scrutiny to itself that it routinely subjects to others. And herein may lie a clue to The Times’s institutional strength ... Nagourney tells the story with restrained skill, including 53 pages of endnotes to support his narrative. It is, if you like, a history of kings and queens, and some readers might have wished to hear more from the foot soldiers. But it’s an important story.
Masterful ... Although aspects of this story will be familiar to some, Nagourney makes it irresistibly compelling by focusing on the people behind it — their motivations, their vulnerabilities, their quirks, and above all the epic power struggles among them ... Nagourney’s narrative benefits from the sheer drama of events: the nation’s most august journalistic institution, brought low first by its own blunders and then by economic circumstance, only to come back stronger than ever.
The new volume is the result of 300 interviews and years of impressive archival research by a veteran Times political reporter. But unlike its predecessor, it is almost completely without the shock of the new. This is not the author’s fault, bur rather an inevitable result in our time ... As a result, if you’re a Times junkie, like I am, there are almost no completely new stories in the 478 pages of Nagourney’s book. Instead there are familiar anecdotes, bolstered by a few juicy new details produced by rigorous reporting ... The biggest problem with Nagourney’s book is the way he treats Arthur Sulzberger Jr, the publisher of the Times during most of the period covered here and therefore the most important person in this saga. Nagourney repeats all criticisms of Sulzberger made by other critics.