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The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family…

The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times (1999)

by Susan E. Tifft

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I find newspaper histories quite interesting. In The Trust, the authors take on The New York Times and the Ochs-Sulzberger clan that has been at its helm since the late 1890s. Using a variety of sources, including 550 interviews, countless archival documents and – of course -- newspaper articles, they paint a detailed picture of how the paper came down through the family during the last century and allow readers to take a behind-the-scenes look at the family dynamics.

What’s amazing is that – through 1999 at least – the Ochs-Sulzberger descendants have not taken the route of the Chandlers in Los Angeles to sell off the paper to the highest bidder. (Which happened to be the Chicago Tribune Company, and we know how well that worked out!)

For some reason, I never tire of reading articles and books about The New York Times. The Trust, all 700+ pages, is the fourth one I’ve read – and I have a few more in the stack, believe it or not! The Trust has provided insight and a framework that helps me make sense of the others I’ve read.

I’m certain most readers don’t have the tolerance I do for reading about the same events from varying viewpoints. Still, The Trust reads a bit like a generational saga ... I found The Trust endlessly fascinating and hard to put down. ( )
  NewsieQ | Nov 22, 2011 |
One only wishes that this energetic, well-paced book had been more reflective, somewhat less catty in its selected quotations and more generous in its assessments of Times personalities. Toward the end, the authors ask, ''What was it, in fact, that had allowed Adolph Ochs and his descendants to own and shepherd The New York Times for over a century while still remaining close as a family?'' This mystery should have framed the entire book. Instead it's thrown in at the end as a mere rhetorical question.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316845469, Hardcover)

This mammoth history of the dynasty that created and controls The New York Times is as epic in its scope as is the role of the newspaper in America. Like any good epic, this story is filled with its fair share of personal ambition, disappointment, competing heirs to the throne, fierce loyalties, and powerful intrigue. The story of The Times starts in 1896, when Adolph Ochs, a young German Jew, buys the undistinguished and nearly bankrupt The New-York Times (the dash was later dropped). He worked hard to distinguish its style from the florid journalism that marked rival papers, and soon Ochs's paper, with its straightforward reporting, became the favorite of the Wall Street and Uptown sets. He toiled, too, to ensure that The Times never earned the moniker "too Jewish." Ochs assiduously declined to promote Jewish editors and was an outspoken opponent of the free state of Israel. And writers Susan Tifft and Alex Jones argue persuasively that in its drive to appear absolutely objective about Jewish issues, the paper (under the leadership at this point of Ochs's son-in-law Arthur Hays Sulzberger) underreported the Holocaust--keeping stories of Hitler's early maneuvers off the front page, failing to name concentration-camp victims as Jews. Though significant, World War II was just one moment in the hundred-year-long history of the paper thus far. The Trust vividly chronicles some of the The Times's most famous moments--the controversial publication of the Pentagon Papers and its transition to a publicly held company in the late '60s are just two--along with the personal histories of four generations of Ochses and Sulzbergers. With its strong foundation of well-researched facts, thoughtful analysis, and excellent narration, The Trust is itself a great work of journalism that does its storied subject proud. --Anna Baldwin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:36 -0400)

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"Through their dynastic control of The New York Times, the Ochses and Sulzbergers have been the most powerful family in twentieth-century America. Not only have they owned the Times for more than a hundred years, but a family member has always been at the paper's helm, a position that has given them enormous influence and has been passed down as a birthright through four generations. Yet by design they have always been intensely private, shunning the visibility their stature inherently commands."--BOOK JACKET. "With novelistic drive and detail, The Trust tells the story of how the domestic dramas of one extraordinary clan shaped the pages of the greatest newspaper in the world; of a Jewish family that found itself under attack for its policies from anti-Semites and Jews alike; of succession battles, human frailty, and tremendous affluence; and of the legacy of public responsibility that has driven the family to serve as devoted stewards of a trust they hold sacred."--BOOK JACKET.

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