"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

A. J. Liebling


Abbot Joseph Liebling, American journalist (1904-1963); best known for his press-criticism column The Wayward Press in The New Yorker, which he took over from Peter Benchley in 1946 and ran with until his death in 1963. Those columns are collected in The Press, out of print.

Liebling was one of that now-forgotten breed of newspaper-centric American journalist who tried to develop a clear, concise style in the American language. There are better models of modern American expository prose than Liebling, but not many. John McPhee is in his league, for example.

Liebling served as a war correspondent for The New Yorker during WWII, in France before the occupation and after liberation, and in North Africa and England in between. Among other events, he attended the landings at Omaha Beach in a landing craft. A volume of his war correspondence, The Road Back to Paris, is in print. His account of the Omaha Beach landing (from his corner of the landing craft) is in Mollie and Other War Pieces, now unfortunately out of print.

Liebling's other interests included French food and wine, France in general, and food and wine in general; he once wrote that he was proud of his gout because it demonstrated his having achieved a consistently high standard of living at a young age. (Heretical, but true: People really did once think that there was more to life than the prolongation of it alone.) These interests are explored in his Between Meals -- An Appetite for Paris, currently in print.

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