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New York Times names new editor for its Book Review

March 11, 2004|Renee Tawa | Times Staff Writer

Ending months of anticipation, the New York Times on Wednesday announced that Sam Tanenhaus, a Vanity Fair contributing editor, has been named editor of the Book Review. Tanenhaus, 48, will replace Charles McGrath, who will continue to write for the newspaper.

Before joining Vanity Fair in 1999, Tanenhaus was an assistant editor for the Times' Op-Ed pages. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1998 for his biography "Whittaker Chambers" (Random House), about a key figure in the Alger Hiss spy trial. The book won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography. Tanenhaus has a master's degree in English literature from Yale University.

In a statement, Bill Keller, the paper's executive editor, said: "He is a writer of distinction, a thinker of tremendous range and ambition, a passionate consumer of books, a kind of literary and intellectual fire-hose." Tanenhaus begins April 12.

Keller set off speculation on the Book Review's future after he said in an interview on Poynter Online that there would be "dramatic changes" after McGrath stepped down. Keller, who was quoted as saying he wanted to include more reviews on "mass market books," later distanced himself from the remarks. But publishers and writers widely interpreted his comments as a sign of a coming intellectual downturn and de-emphasizing of literary fiction.

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