When Arthur Gelb joinedThe New York Timesin 1944, manual typewriters, green eyeshades, spittoons, floors littered with cigarette butts, and two bookies were what he found in the city room. Gelb was twenty, his position the lowliest-night copy boy.
When he retired forty-five years later, he was managing editor. On his way to the top, he exposed crooked cops and politicians; mentored a generation of our most talented journalists; was the first to praise such yet undiscovered talents as Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand; and brought Joe Papp public recognition. As metropolitan editor, Gelb reshaped the way the paper covered New York, and while assistant managing editor, he launched the paper's daily special sections.
From D-Day to the liberation of the concentration camps; from the agony of Vietnam to the resignation of a President; from the fall of Joe McCarthy to the rise of the Woodstock Nation, Gelb's time at the Times reveals his intimate take on the great events of the past fifty years.
The raffish early days are long gone, the hum of computers has replaced the clatter of typewriter keys, but the same ambition, passion, grandstanding, and courage Gelb found at twenty still fill the city room.