A. J. Liebling is routinely lauded as one of the premier journalists of the twentieth century, a backhanded compliment that renders him largely obsolete by virtue of its timestamp. The sort of erudite reportage that he perfected—lengthy pieces on everything from a prize fight in Providence to Parisian haute cuisine—has not aged well, especially in the age of blogs and the twenty-four-hour news cycle. And his natural gravitation to the relics of high culture left Liebling on the sidelines of the rapid transformation American society experienced after his death in 1963.

There have been several attempts to resurrect Liebling’s legacy, but none has been more noteworthy than the Library of America’s publication of two volumes devoted to him. The first covered his World War II reporting, most of it done at the behest of The New Yorker—his employer for twenty-eight years—from...


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