A. J. Liebling
The Sweet Science and Other Writings
The Sweet Science • The Earl of Louisiana • The Jollity Building • Between Meals • The Press
"The best single-volume collection of Liebling's domestic writings that could possibly be put together."
—Terry Teachout, National Review
"The essential Liebling."
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One of the most gifted American journalists of the 20th century, A. J. Liebling learned his craft as a newspaper reporter before joining The New Yorker in 1935. This volume collects five books that demonstrate his extraordinary vitality and versatility as a writer.
Named the best sports book of all time by Sports Illustrated in 2002, The Sweet Science (1956) offers a lively and idiosyncratic portrait of boxing in the early 1950s that encompasses boastful managers, veteran trainers, wily cornermen, and the fighters themselves: Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Archie Moore, “a virtuoso of anachronistic perfection.” No one has captured the fierce artistry of the ring like Liebling. “A boxer,” he observed, “like a writer, must stand alone.” A classic of reporting, The Earl of Louisiana (1961) is a vivid account of Governor Earl Long’s bid for reelection after his release from a mental asylum in 1959—and an insightful look at Southern politics during the civil rights era.
The Jollity Building (1962) collects hilarious stories about Manhattan cigar-store owners, night-club promoters, and the scheming “Telephone Booth Indians” of Broadway, as well as a profile of “The Honest Rainmaker,” the racing columnist and confidence man extraordinaire Colonel John R. Stingo. An unabashed celebration of the pleasures of unrestrained eating, Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris (1962) is a richly evocative memoir of Liebling’s lifelong love for Paris and French food and wine. The Press (1964) brings together the best of Liebling’s influential “Wayward Press” pieces, in which he perceptively examined the flaws of American journalism and presciently warned of the dangers of consolidated media ownership. “Freedom of the press,” he wrote, “is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
Pete Hamill, volume editor, is the author of 22 books, including News Is a Verb: Journalism at the End of the Twentieth Century, Why Sinatra Matters, and the novels Forever and North River. He has written columns for the New York Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, The Village Voice, New York, and Esquire, and served as editor-in-chief of both the Post and the Daily News.
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