A Life of Privilege, Mostly

A Life of Privilege, Mostly

Gardner Botsford

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0312303432

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Gardner Botsford tells the fascinating and humorous story of his W.W. II experiences, from his assignment to the infantry due to a paperwork error to a fearful trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary, to landing under heavy fire on Omaha Beach and the Liberation of Paris. After the war, he began a distinguished literary career as a long-time editor at the New Yorker, and chronicles the magazine’s rise and influence on postwar American culture with wit and grace.

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British captain, the liaison officer from the 50th British Infantry Division—the celebrated Desert Rats of North Africa—which had landed in the invasion sector just to the east of us, was also in the ditch, trying to do the same thing. We were leaning against a couple of young trees, our backs to the fighting, when suddenly there was a ripping sound and a metallic bang, and the English officer’s head jerked forward. He took off his helmet, and there, flattened against its back, was a squashed

is behind that window curtain—a terrified grandmother or a machine gunner. Or both. And all those upstairs windows make perfect shelters for snipers. After a lot of this sort of fighting, Aachen was finally taken. One of the casualties of the assault was my friend David Lardner. A son of Ring Lardner, he was about my age and had worked on The New Yorker as its nightclub critic. I have known four Lardners—Dave, Susan, Rex, and James—and they have all shared one characteristic: a predisposition to

retain their interest even after marriage. I hope that you are happy and contented, but I doubt it.” As for my father, Alfred Miller Botsford, he was not quite the Quincy hayseed with an eastern education that Brian Gallagher implies. His father (who had had an eastern education, too—Princeton, 1874) was editor of the Quincy Herald-Whig, and his father was a clergyman in Philadelphia. When my father graduated from Williams, in 1906, he stayed east. He was stagestruck, and he tried his luck in

holy man—something of Shawn—about him; one would hesitate to say “shit” in his presence. He was serious, and seriously concerned, just like Shawn (though without Shawn’s esprit and sense of humor). People saw in him an extension of Shawn, and Shawn was by no means popular with the editorial staff just then—its negotiations with the American Newspaper Guild attested to that. As for the writers, they were, with exceptions, more tolerant of Jonathan. “It used to be said within the offices that

told him that I will recommend someone when I reach a conclusion about who I think it should be. Mr. Fleischmann may or may not accept my recommendation, but he has assured me that he, too, understands the crucial importance of the editor’s having the staff’s support. As we think of who the next editor should be, we have to gauge his talent, appraise his editorial judgment, examine his taste, measure the range of his interests, and look searchingly at his qualities of character. Jonathan Schell

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