The Perfect Assignment (Hardcover)
Written with grace, intimacy, candor, insight, and humor, Jonathan Larsen's The Perfect Assignment is a timely, first-hand account of the ascendancy and decline of print journalism over the better part of the twentieth century. As both practitioner and witness, Larsen tells the story from a unique vantage point—his own experience in the trenches as a reporter and editor and as the son of Time Inc.'s Roy E. Larsen.
Hired by Time's founders, Roy Larsen spent over five decades building Henry Luce's company into the most influential magazine publisher in the world. Witness to much of that creation, Jon joined Time Inc. in 1963 as an editorial trainee, and for a decade reported on Time stories ranging from the bloody 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention to the Manson cult murders in Los Angeles. As Time's Saigon bureau chief, he resisted the jingoism that distorted the magazine's coverage of Vietnam for decades.
In 1974, Larsen became editor of New Times, a national news magazine renowned for its investigative journalism and its talented journalists—Frank Rich, Nina Totenberg, Robert Sam Anson, Susan Lyne, Lawrence Wright, Jane Amsterdam and Peter Kaplan among them. Later, as editor of The Village Voice, Larsen led an aggressive team of investigative journalists that broke dozens of local, national and international stories. The Perfect Assignment captures the vagaries and frustration, the camaraderie and competition, the periodic elation and consuming commitments of the reporting life. Larsen has written a profound reminder that "real news" requires intrepid journalists, savvy editors, publishers with a long view, and readers with high expectations.
About the Author
Jonathan Z. Larsen worked for Time Inc. for ten years, first as a writer in New York and then as a correspondent in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and Saigon bureaus. As editor of the national magazine New Times and later The Village Voice, Larsen focused on breaking stories and investigative reporting. He also studied as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and served as the news editor of Life. He has freelanced for magazines including New York and Manhattan, inc. Larsen has served on the editorial boards of Nuclear Times, OnEarth, the Columbia Journalism Review, and the investigative on-line site WhoWhatWhy. He and his wife, Mary Peacock, divide their time between New York and Vermont.
“Jonathan Larsen's deep dive into the quiddities of print journalism of the last sixty years combines a writer's passion and an editor's exactitude. Larsen was present at and engaged in the reporting of extreme moments of our culture and history... all seen through the privileged eyes of a consummate insider.”—Geoffrey Wolff, author of Duke of Deception: Memories of My Father
“Jonathan Larsen is a great storyteller. His rich and varied life, both personal and professional, informs this canny take on the tribulations and prospects of print journalism. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end.”—Daniel Okrent, author of The Guarded Gate and former public editor of The New York Times
“Jon Larsen gets up close and personal with the world of journalism both new and old — a must-read for anyone who was, or is, or wants to be a journalist; or has ever read a newspaper or magazine—a page-turner for every Baby Boomer and everyone who's not.”—Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, Emmy-winning writers and executive producers of The Sopranos, creators of Blue Bloods