Sir Evans, cru­sad­ing pub­lisher, dies at 92

Arab Times - - NEWS/FEATURES -

NEW YORK, Sept 24, (AP): Sir Harold Evans, the charis­matic pub­lisher, au­thor and muck­raker who was a bold-faced name for decades for ex­pos­ing wrong­do­ing in 1960s Lon­don to pub­lish­ing such 1990s best-sell­ers as “Pri­mary Col­ors”, has died, his wife said Thurs­day. He was 92.

His wife, fel­low au­thor-pub­lisher Tina Brown, said he died Wed­nes­day in New York of con­ges­tive heart fail­ure.

A vi­sion of Bri­tish eru­di­tion and sass, Evans was a high-pro­file go-get­ter, start­ing in the 1960s as an edi­tor of the North­ern Echo and the Sun­day Times of Lon­don and con­tin­u­ing into the 1990s as pres­i­dent of Ran­dom House. Mar­ried since 1981 to Brown, their union was a par­a­digm of me­dia clout and A-list ac­cess.

A de­fender of lit­er­a­ture and print jour­nal­ism well into the dig­i­tal age, Evans was one of the all-time news­pa­per edi­tors, star­tling Bri­tish so­ci­ety with rev­e­la­tions of es­pi­onage, cor­po­rate wrong­do­ing and gov­ern­ment scan­dal. In the US, he pub­lished such at­ten­tion-get­ters as the mys­te­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal novel “Pri­mary Col­ors” and mem­oirs by such un­likely authors as Manuel Nor­iega and Mar­lon Brando. He was knighted by his na­tive Bri­tain in 2004 for his con­tri­bu­tions to jour­nal­ism.

He held his own, and more, with the world’s elite, but was mind­ful of his work­ing class back­ground: a lo­co­mo­tive driver’s son, born in Lan­cashire, English, on June 28, 1928. As a teen, he was evac­u­ated to Wales dur­ing World War II. Af­ter serv­ing in the Royal Air Force, he stud­ied pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics at Durham Univer­sity and re­ceived a mas­ter’s in for­eign pol­icy.

His drive to re­port and ex­pose dated back to his teens, when he dis­cov­ered that news­pa­pers had wildly ro­man­ti­cized the Bat­tle of Dunkirk be­tween Ger­man and Bri­tish soldiers.

At­ten­tion

“A news­pa­per is an ar­gu­ment on the way to a dead­line,” he once wrote. He was just 16 when he got his first jour­nal­ism job, at a lo­cal news­pa­per in Lan­cashire, and af­ter grad­u­at­ing from col­lege he be­came an as­sis­tant edi­tor at the Manch­ester Evening News. In his early 30s, he was hired to edit the Daily Echo and be­gan at­tract­ing na­tional at­ten­tion with cru­sades such as gov­ern­ment fund­ing for can­cer smear tests for women.

He had yet to turn 40 when he be­came edi­tor of the Sun­day Times, where he reigned and re­belled for 14 years un­til he was pushed out by a new boss, Ru­pert Mur­doch. No­table sto­ries included pub­lish­ing the diaries of for­mer Labour Min­is­ter Richard Cross­man; tak­ing on the man­u­fac­tur­ers of the drug Thalido­mide, which caused birth de­fects in chil­dren; and re­veal­ing that Bri­tain’s Kim Philby was a Soviet spy.

“There have been many times when I have found that what was pre­sented as truth did not square with what I dis­cov­ered as a re­porter, or later as an edi­tor, learned from good shoe-leather re­porters,” he ob­served in “My Pa­per Chase”, pub­lished in 2009. “We all un­der­stand in an age of ter­ror­ism that re­frain­ing from ex­pos­ing a lie may be nec­es­sary for the pro­tec­tion of in­no­cents. But ‘na­tional in­ter­est’ is an elas­tic con­cept that if stretched can snap with a sting.”

Mean­while, the then-mar­ried Evans be­came in­fat­u­ated with an ir­rev­er­ent blonde just out of Ox­ford, Tina Brown, and soon be­gan a long-dis­tance cor­re­spon­dence – he in Lon­don, she in New York – that grew in­ti­mate enough for Evans to “fall in love by post”. They were mar­ried in East Hamp­ton, New York, in 1981. The Washington Post’s Ben Bradlee was best man, Nora Ephron was among the guests.

With Brown, Evans had two chil­dren, adding to the two chil­dren he had with his first wife.

Their gar­den apart­ment on Man­hat­tan’s ex­clu­sive Sutton Place be­came a mini-me­dia dy­nasty: He the cham­pion of jus­tice, rogues and belles let­tres, she the award-win­ning provo­ca­teur and chron­i­cler of the fa­mous – as head of Tatler in Eng­land, then Van­ity Fair and The New Yorker, and as au­thor of a best-sell­ing book about Princess Diana.

Evans em­i­grated to the US in 1984, ini­tially serv­ing as ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor of US News & World Re­port, and was hired six years later by Ran­dom House. He pub­lished Wil­liam Sty­ron’s best-sell­ing ac­count of his near-sui­ci­dal de­pres­sion, “Dark­ness Vis­i­ble”, and winked at Washington with “Pri­mary Col­ors”, a ro­man a clef about then-can­di­date Bill Clin­ton that was pub­lished anony­mously and set off a capi­tol guess­ing game, ended when The Washington Post un­masked mag­a­zine cor­re­spon­dent Joe Klein.

Evans had a friendly syn­er­gist at The New Yorker, where Brown se­ri­al­ized works by Mon­ica Crow­ley, Ed­ward Jay Ep­stein and other Ran­dom House authors. A special ben­e­fi­ciary was Jeffrey Toobin, a court re­porter for The New Yorker who re­ceived a Ran­dom House deal for a book on the O.J. Simp­son trial that was duly ex­cerpted in Brown’s mag­a­zine.

Evans took on mem­oirs by the re­spected – Colin Pow­ell – as well as the dis­graced: Clin­ton ad­vi­sor and al­leged call girl client Dick Mor­ris. He vis­ited Nor­iega’s jail cell in pur­suit of a mem­oir by the de­posed Pana­ma­nian dic­ta­tor. In 1994, he risked $40,000 for a book by a com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer and law school grad­u­ate, a bar­gain for what be­came for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s “Dreams from My Fa­ther”.

Evan’s more no­table fol­lies included a dis­par­aged, Ran­dom House-gen­er­ated list of the 100 great­est nov­els of the 20th cen­tury, for which judges ac­knowl­edged they had no ideal how the books were ranked, and Brando’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me”.

Also:

PARIS: Juli­ette Greco, a French singer, ac­tress, cul­tural icon and muse to ex­is­ten­tial­ist philoso­phers of the coun­try’s post-War pe­riod, has died, French me­dia said Wed­nes­day. She was 93.

They said Greco died in her Ra­mat­uelle house in the south of France, near Saint Tropez.

The mayor of Nice, Chris­tian Estrosi, tweeted that “a very grand lady, an im­mense artist has gone.”

With ex­pres­sive eyes in­her­ited from her Greek an­ces­tors and an im­pos­si­bly deep, raspy voice – ac­quired from years of cig­a­rette-smok­ing – Greco im­mor­tal­ized some of France’s most rec­og­niz­able songs in an en­dur­ing seven-decade ca­reer, in­clud­ing the clas­sics “Soul le ciel de Paris” (Un­der the Parisian sky) and “Je hais les di­manches” (I hate Sun­days).

Greco was born in Mont­pel­lier on Feb 7, 1927, to an ab­sent fa­ther, Ger­ard Greco, and a mother from Bordeaux, Juli­ette Laf­ey­chine – from whom, she told a 1986 French doc­u­men­tary, she re­ceived lit­tle love. “You are not my daugh­ter,” Greco quoted her mother as say­ing.

Evans

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