Today’s New York Observer has a profile of Sam Tanenhaus:
“I’m very moderate by nature,” Sam Tanenhaus said by telephone from his home in Westchester, two days after The New York Times announced that he would be the next editor of its Book Review. “People with extreme views interest me, dramatically and narratively.”
The author of a very well-received 1997 biography of the journalist and eventual anti-communist Whittaker Chambers, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Mr. Tanenhaus has spent the past five years as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, largely chronicling conservatives and neoconservatives in the orbit of the Bush administration. And so liberals seem to think–or, perhaps, to fear–that the man taking over one of the country’s premier literary institutions is a conservative, while conservatives find him, as he said, more middle-of-the-road.
Affable, energetic but easygoing, well-respected by a broad swath of the intellectual community, possessing a healthy understanding of the ideological debates of the day but with no apparent dog in the race, Mr. Tanenhaus appears to fit The Times’ bill perfectly as a successor to Charles (Chip) McGrath, who has been itching to return to writing after nearly a decade in one of New York’s most prestigious–and thankless–jobs. Mr. Tanenhaus also happens to come equipped with an M.A. in English literature from Yale and a background in book publishing….
“Sam is neither conservative nor neoconservative,” summed up his friend Terry Teachout, the critic and blogger, who contributes to The Times Book Review. “He is an old-fashioned anti-communist Jewish liberal intellectual who still gets excited about Saul Bellow.”
Read the whole thing here.