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Thinking Things Over

Vermont Royster's Legacy at the Wall Street Journal

By Chris Roush

Trade Paper
ISBN 9781936863600

  • Business Journalism
Thinking Things Over cover

Thinking Things Over

By Chris Roush

Trade Paper
ISBN 9781936863600

  • Business Journalism

About Thinking Things Over

One of the most influential voices of the 20th century and among the greatest American journalists of all time is chronicled in this intellectual profile of Vermont Royster. As editor of The Wall Street Journal from 1958 to 1971, Royster helped shape the publication into what it is today—the country’s largest circulation daily newspaper and a force in influencing what people think about government, politics, and business. He earned his place in history by writing eloquently and passionately about topics ranging from the Vietnam War to how he had his pocket picked one morning on the New York subway, and he was much loved by readers for his frequently sarcastic wit and his willingness to peel back the layers and explain what was happening in a way that was both  understandable and entertaining. This portrait of the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist includes exclusive notes on private meetings with American presidents, archival photos, and original writings that reveal Royster's profound wit and Twainian editorial style.


 

Vermont Royster was one of newspaperdom’s truly original voices, and for many crucial years the conscience of the Wall Street Journal. Chris Roush brings him to life, while illuminating his times. This is a significant contribution to the history of journalism in the 20th century.

 

Chris Roush's rich evocation of the memory of Vermont Royster will, I hope, kindle a revival of interest in him and his work. With the alarming decline of newspaper journalism, too much commentary is scattered into what I like to call the vast, atomized hush of the Internet. It is hard for newcomers to the news to imagine how truly public and influential it was only a few decades ago. Among the commanding voices in 20th-century American editorial journalism, Vermont's stood among the preeminent. His writing was enriched by deep learning, careful thought, civil and eloquent discourse and a certain old-timey Tar Heel idiom. His example and influence are sorely missed.”

 

Chris Roush’s biography of Vermont Royster is a masterful portrait of one of the most influential editors of the 20th century, a writer who left a mark on American journalism that endures to this day. Royster, educated in the classics and with a historical perspective, brought to editorial writing at the Wall Street Journal insightful thinking and graceful, lyrical writing matched by very few, if any, of his peers anywhere, past or present. I worked closely with Royster for more than 20 years, admired how his eloquently expressed opinions helped make the Journal ‘must reading’ in Washington and across the country, and we were friends for more than 35 years. I thought I knew the man well. But author Roush, through tenacious research and access to personal papers never open to the public before, has made him come alive to me in added dimensions, and has done so in a skillfully written, highly readable way.

 

A long overdue and fascinating look at the man whose wit and wisdom contributed mightily to building the Wall Street Journal into the national asset it is today.