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Works by
A. J. Liebling
(Journalist, Writer)
[1904 - 1963]

Profile created February 10, 2007
  • Back Where I Came From (1938)
    Back Where I Came From was Liebling's first book, and in it one sees initial glimmers of the kinds of colorful characters he would, over the course of his decades at the New Yorker, introduce to his ever-growing audience. This rollicking tour of the more amusing sideshows to be found in the master journalist's native city features memorable figures, such as the Mayor of Mulberry Street, whose responsibilities include keeping tabs on people's trips to Coney Island, because an uneven number of dips in the sea would be certain to cause rheumatism; a professional faster who weighs 260 pounds and a professional eater who weighs 180; and a tugboat captain who sounds just like a real-life Popeye ("I am seventy-four years old and I can jump out of that window and jump back again.")

    With wry wit and knowing affection, one of the finest, and funniest, journalists of all time brings to life the city he loves-its speakeasies, gyms, markets, and waterfront. Back Where I Came From is vintage Liebling, sure to enchant Gotham's fans and foes alike.

  • The Telephone Booth Indian (1942)
    Often referred to as “Liebling lowlife pieces,” the essays in The Telephone Booth Indian boisterously celebrate raffishness. A. J. Liebling appreciated a good scam and knew how to cultivate the scammers. Telephone Booth Indians (entrepreneurs so impecunious that they conduct business from telephone booths in the lobbies of New York City office buildings) and a host of other petty nomads of Broadway—with names like Marty the Clutch and Count de Pennies—are the protagonists in this incomparable Liebling work. In The Telephone Booth Indian, Liebling proves just why he was the go-to man on New York lowlife and con culture; this is the master at the top of his form, uncovering scam after scam and writing about them with the wit and charisma that established him as one of the greatest journalists of his generation and one of New York’s finest cultural chroniclers.

  • The Road Back to Paris (1944)
    Originally published in 1944, The Road Back to Paris comprises dispatches from France, England, and North Africa that A. J. Liebling filed with The New Yorker during the Second World War. The magazine sent Liebling to Paris in 1939, hoping that he could replicate in wartime France his brilliant reporting of New York life. Liebling succeeded triumphantly, concentrating on writing the individual soldier's story to illuminate the larger picture of the European theater of the war and the fight for what Liebling felt was the first priority of business: the liberation of his beloved France.

    The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.

    For a complete list of titles, see the inside of the jacket. Despite his ill health and bad eyesight, Liebling went on patrol, interviewed soldiers, fled Paris and returned after D-Day, was shot at in North Africa and bombed in the blitz in London. Into this chaos, as his biographer Raymond Sokolov comments, "he brought himself, a fiercely committed Francophile with a novelist's skill for crystallizing his day-to-day experiences into a profound chronicle of a 'world knocked down.' "

  • The Republic of Silence (1947)

  • The Wayward Pressman (1947)

  • Mink and Read Herring, The Wayward Pressman's Casebook (19490

  • Chicago: The Second City (1952)
    Many Chicagoans rose in protest over A. J. Liebling’s tongue-in-cheek tour of their fair city in 1952. Liebling found much to admire in the Windy City’s people and culture—its colorful language, its political sophistication, its sense of its own history and specialness, but Liebling offended that city’s image of itself when he discussed its entertainments, its built landscapes, and its mental isolation from the world’s affairs.

    Liebling, a writer and editor for the New Yorker, lived in Chicago for nearly a year. While he found a home among its colorful inhabitants, he couldn’t help comparing Chicago with some other cities he had seen and loved, notably Paris, London, and especially New York. His magazine columns brought down on him a storm of protests and denials from Chicago’s defenders, and he gently and humorously answers their charges and acknowledges his errors in a foreword written especially for the book edition. Liebling describes the restaurants, saloons, and striptease joints; the newspapers, cocktail parties, and political wards; the university; and the defining event in Chicago’s mythic past, the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Illustrated by Steinberg, Chicago is a loving, if chiding, portrait of a great American metropolis.

  • The Honest Rainmaker (1953)
    In 1947 A.J. Liebling had the great good fortune to make the acquaintance of the Honest Rainmaker, Colonel John R. Stingo. Stingo-the salt, pepper, and ketchup of the earth-was as much a journalist as he was a personality who graced the pages of newspapers for over sixty years. After the fortuitous meeting, Mr. Liebling set out to record the redoubtable individual's colorful memoirs, and the end result is a rare delight.

  • The Sweet Science (1956)
    A.J. Liebling's classic New Yorker pieces on the "sweet science of bruising" bring vividly to life the boxing world as it once was. It depicts the great events of boxing's American heyday: Sugar Ray Robinson's dramatic comeback, Rocky Marciano's rise to prominence, Joe Louis's unfortunate decline. Liebling never fails to find the human story behind the fight, and he evokes the atmosphere in the arena as distinctly as he does the goings-on in the ring--a combination that prompted Sports Illustrated to name The Sweet Science the best American sports book of all time.

  • Normandy Revisited (1958)

  • The Earl of Louisiana (1961)
    In the summer of 1959, A. J. Liebling, veteran writer for the New Yorker, came to Louisiana to cover a series of bizarre events which began when Governor Earl K. Long was committed to a mental institution. Captivated by his subject, Liebling remained to write the fascinating yet tragic story of ?Uncle Earl?s? final year in politics. First published in 1961, The Earl of Louisiana recreates a stormy era of Louisiana politics and captures the style and personality of one of the most colorful and paradoxical figures in the state?s history.

  • Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris (1962)
    New Yorker writer A.J. Liebling recalls his Parisian apprenticeship in the fine art of eating in this charming memoir.

  • Mollie and Other War Pieces (1964)
    A. J. Liebling’s coverage of the Second World War for the New Yorker gives us a fresh and unexpected view of the war—stories told in the words of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who fought it, the civilians who endured it, and the correspondents who covered it.
    The hero of the title story is a private in the Ninth Army division known as Mollie, short for Molotov, so called by his fellow G.I.s because of his radical views and Russian origins. Mollie was famous for his outlandish dress (long blonde hair, riding boots, feathered beret, field glasses, and red cape), his disregard for army discipline, his knack for acquiring prized souvenirs, his tales of being a Broadway big shot, and his absolute fearlessness in battle. Killed in combat on Good Friday, 1943, Mollie (real name: Karl Warner) was awarded the Silver Star posthumously. Intrigued by the legend and fascinated by the man behind it, Liebling searched out Mollie’s old New York haunts and associates and found behind the layers of myth a cocky former busboy from Hell’s Kitchen who loved the good life.
    Other stories take Liebling through air battles in Tunisia, across the channel with the D-Day invasion fleet, and through a liberated Paris celebrating de Gaulle and freedom. Liebling’s war was a vast human-interest story, told with a heart for the feelings of the people involved and the deepest respect for those who played their parts with heroism, however small or ordinary the stage.

  • The Best of A.J. Liebling of the New Yorker (1965)

  • Liebling Abroad (1981)

  • A Reporter at Large -- Dateline: Pyramid Lake, Nevada (1999), Elmer R. Rusco, ed.
    A collection of New Yorker columnist A. J. Liebling's four essays on the controversy surrounding Pyramid Lake in the 1950s. Nevada scholar Elmer Rusco provides important historic background information on the Paiutes and "the Lake of the Cui-ui Eaters."

  • Just Enough Liebling (2004)
    The restaurants of the Latin Quarter and the city rooms of midtown Manhattan; the beachhead of Normandy and the boxing gyms of Times Square; the trackside haunts of bookmakers and the shadowy redoubts of Southern politicians--these are the places that A.J. Liebling shows to us in his unforgettable New Yorker articles, brought together here so that a new generation of readers might discover Liebling as if for the first time.

    Born a hundred years ago, Abbott Joseph "Joe" Liebling was the first of the great New Yorker writers, a colorful and tireless figure who helped set the magazine's urbane style. Today, he is best known as a celebrant of the "sweet science" of boxing or as a "feeder" who ravishes the reader with his descriptions of food and wine. But as David Remnick, a Liebling devotee, suggests in his fond and insightful introduction, Liebling was a writer bounded only by his intelligence, taste, and ardor for life. Like his nemesis William Randolph Hearst, he changed the rules of modern journalism, banishing the distinctions between reporting and storytelling, between news and art. Whatever his role, Liebling is a most companionable figure, and to read the pieces in this grand and generous book is to be swept along on a thrilling adventure in a world of confidence men, rogues, press barons and political cronies, with an inimitable writer as one's guide.

See also:
  • The Most of A.J. Liebling (1963) by William Cole

  • A. J. Liebling (1974) by Edmund M Midura

  • Wayward Reporter: The Life of A. J. Liebling (1980) by Raymond A. Sokolov;

  • A Neutral Corner: Boxing Essays (1990), Edited  with Fred Warner and James Barbour
    Fifteen previously unpublished boxing pieces written between 1952 and 1963.

    Demonstrating A.J. Liebling’s abiding passion for the “sweet science” of boxing, A Neutral Corner brings together fifteen previously unpublished pieces written between 1952 and 1963. Antic, clear-eyed, and wildly entertaining, these essays showcase a The New Yorker journalist at the top of his form. Here one relives the high drama of the classic Patterson-Johansson championship bout of 1959, and Liebling’s early prescient portrayal of Cassius Clay’s style as a boxer and a poet is not to be missed.

    Liebling always finds the human story that makes these essays appealing to aficionados of boxing and prose alike. Alive with a true fan’s reverence for the sport, yet balanced by a true skeptic’s disdain for sentiment, A Neutral Corner is an American treasure.

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