by Richard Kluger; Knopf; 816 pages; $24.95.
To thousands of readers the newspaper was known simply as the Trib , and when the New York Herald Tribune died in 1967, its devotees grieved as for a friend. Created by a merger of James Gordon Bennett’s Herald and Horace Greeley’s Tribune early in this century, the paper, at its best, raised journalism almost to the stature of literature. Its competition in New York was always The New York Times and, unable to match the Times in completeness, the Trib emphasized style and spirited writing. Many readers who didn’t share the paper’s commitment to the Republican party read it for its quality. Included in the roster of its employees are most of the journalists whose names are remembered by nonjournalists: Walter Lippmann, Dorothy Thompson, Red Smith, Heywood Broun, Virgil Thomson. Richard Kluger, a former literary editor of the Trib , weaves the turbulent history of the families who owned the paper, and the relationship of a great paper to its city and nation, into a fascinating social and business history of the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries.