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Ashbel Green dies at 84

The respected editor at Alfred A. Knopf persuaded Gabriel Garcia Marquez to switch publishers and acquired and edited hundreds of books, including the crime classic 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle.'

September 23, 2012

Ashbel Green, 84, a respected editor at Alfred A. Knopf who persuaded Gabriel Garcia Marquez to switch publishers, worked on Walter Cronkite's memoir and a foreign policy book by President George H.W. Bushand helped discover the crime classic "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," died Tuesday night. Green had been dining with his wife, Elizabeth Osha, near their home in Stonington, Conn., when he died, the publisher announced. The cause was not given.

Green was praised by the New York Observer as "an exemplar of elegance, decency and seriousness." He acquired and edited hundreds of books and as managing editor at Knopf looked through the endless unsolicited manuscripts known as the slush pile.

In the early 1970s, he came upon a story about the Irish American underworld in Boston, written by Assistant U.S. Atty. George V. Higgins. Green liked it and paid $2,000 for "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," a novel now considered a masterpiece.

Interested in politics and history, he edited the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Founding Brothers" by Joseph Ellis and acquired many works by Cold War dissidents, among them Andrei Sakharov's memoir and books by Milovan Djilas and Vaclav Havel.

Green's other projects included Cronkite's "A Reporter's Life" and a collaboration between Bush and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft titled "A World Transformed."

One notable achievement was persuading Garcia Marquez to join Knopf in the 1980s after a long history with what is now HarperCollins.

Known to friends as Ash, Green was born in 1928 in New York. He graduated from Columbia College in 1950 and two years later received a master's degree there. He worked as publicity director of Prentice Hall, developed a love for editing and was hired by Knopf in 1964 as managing editor. Nine years later, he was promoted to vice president and senior editor and remained in those positions until retiring in 2007.

From Times wire reports

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