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A.J. Liebling

LIEBLING, A.J. (Abbott Joseph, Joe; 1904–1963), one of the best-known and most widely admired journalists of his generation. Liebling was born in New York City to a penniless Jewish immigrant from Austria who became prosperous as a furrier, and a mother from a well-to-do Jewish family in San Francisco. Liebling enrolled at Dartmouth College in the fall of 1920 a month shy of his 16th birthday, and left without graduating. After graduating from Columbia University's School of Journalism, Liebling worked at the New York Evening World, the New York Times sports department, and the Evening Bulletin of Providence, Rhode Island. Liebling joined the New Yorker in 1935, where he remained for 28 years until his death. During World War II, he served as a war correspondent, filing stories from Africa, England, and Europe and wrote about his participation in the Normandy landings on D-Day. Liebling wrote atmospheric pieces about New York's neighborhoods and characters, especially those in the boxing business, and eventually became the foremost American writer on boxing. His book The Sweet Science (1956) was named No. 1 by Sports Illustrated on its 2002 list of top sports book of all time, and the Boxing Writers Association of America presents the A.J. Liebling Award for excellence in boxing journalism. Liebling also loved to eat and drink and wrote vividly about both, and he also loved newspapers, which led to his writing 82 "Way-ward Press" columns of press criticism in the New Yorker between 1945 and 1963. Liebling is remembered for many quotes and aphorisms, such as "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one"; "People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news"; and "I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better." He is the author of some 15 books including Back Where I Came From (1938), The Telephone Booth Indian (1942), The Wayward Pressman (1947), Chicago, The Second City (1952), Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris (1959), and The Earl of Louisiana (1961). A collection of his writings, Just Enough Liebling, was published in 2004.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.