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Another Life: A Memoir of Other People Hardcover – Apr 27 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 530 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st Edition edition (April 27 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679456597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679456599
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 885 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #914,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Michael Korda has spent 41 years at Simon & Schuster--most of them as editor in chief--and it proves to be a front-row seat for observing book publishing's transition from a gentlemanly trade to a hard-nosed business. He chronicles that evolution with impressive perceptiveness and tearing good spirits in this juicy memoir. Korda has a novelist's gift for capturing people's personalities in a few paragraphs, and he nails everyone from bestselling fantasy mongers Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins to his boss and good friend, S&S's notoriously dictatorial publisher, Richard Snyder. But he also seems to be incapable of bearing a grudge or truly disliking anyone, so his smart, razor-sharp portraits never appear nasty, just good fun. The key to Korda's appeal is his zest for all manner of books and people, from the highest to the lowest brow, so long as they sincerely believe in what they're doing. (He's amused rather than outraged, for example, by Ronald Reagan's ability to recount with total conviction events that never occurred.) Korda gives a brief, frank account of his personal life, including a failed first marriage, but--luckily for his readers--it's clear that he spent most of his time at the office. --Wendy Smith

From Publishers Weekly

Readers of the New Yorker will already have encountered some choice passages from this gloriously funny, charming and ultra-readable book: those that deal with Jacqueline Susann (soon to be the basis of a movie), Irving (Swifty) Lazar and two noted S&S authors, Richard Nixon and Ronald ReaganAthough neither of their books sold nearly as well as those of their editor, the present author. It is a piece of hoary folk wisdom that books about publishing don't sell, because the people most interested don't have to buy books, and the people who do buy aren't interested. If any book can give that old saw the lie, this is the one. A more candid, engaging and warmly knowledgeable survey of the past 40 years of American publishing cannot be imagined. From the time he joined the firm that was to become his life, at the end of the 1950s, Korda saw the business change almost beyond recognition, from a cozy occupation performed almost like a hobby to one where stakes were almost as high as Hollywood's and the market ruled. Korda creates for himself a persona of guileless innocence coupled with quiet sophistication, and it works wonders in his countless trenchant character studies of S&S's founding family and such colleagues as editor-in-chief Bob Gottlieb and CEO Richard Snyder. His picture of Snyder, though it does not disguise the man's less agreeable aspects, is arguably too sunny, but most people of whom he writes are as entertaining as characters in an endless comic novel. Korda even treats his own workAwhich has embraced such major hits as Charmed Lives, Queenie and Power!Awith bemusement, quite without vanity and rather as an excuse to poke fun at author tours and the perils of overnight success. Nobody who loves the book business with Korda's hopeless and enduring passion can fail to be delighted and touched by this endearing saga. Long may he edit. First serial to the New Yorker.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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I WAS TWENTY-THREE before it occurred to me that my future might not lie in the movie business. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Gifford on June 18 2000
Format: Paperback
Those who love the story of writing and how stories are made will love this book. Those who work closely with authors to help them develop their work will appreciate it even more.
Korda gives us a rare inside look at how publishers publish. He shares with us how he got into the business, how he climbed the S&S ladder, and how he came to run the editorial department of one of the most successful houses in publishing history. He tells us hilarious and eye-opening stories of Tennessee Williams and Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins. We learn just how much work editors put into creating bestsellers. We find out who the authors are and who the writers are. If you're like me, you'll read these stories as you would a bowl of candy. You'll eat and eat until you're scratching at the bottom of the bowl for more.
I don't recommend this book without reservation, however. Michael Korda, the famous editor, could have used even a junior editor to help him dig out his story. At times, the book thuds along, caught up in Korda's telling of the history of publishing in the United States. His asides into the money side of the business -- how publishing developed from a cottage industry into a mere cog in larger multinational entertainment companies -- is numbing. Still, I soaked in these parts of his story to get to the good parts.
Korda is not a great writer, though he worked with many, and has a wonderful story to tell. Skip past the dull moments if you like, but most definitely read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The publishers made a typo error in this book's title - they added an "f". Instead of "Another Life", it should more appropriately be titled "Another Lie." Although it is a well-written and fairly entertaining memoir, it is the Napoleonic ambitions of its author that make it a very dubious and unreliable addition to any non-fiction library. Due to Michael Korda's supremely fragile ego, always in danger of having to be placed in intensive care, everything in this book must be viewed very skeptically. Korda not only takes credit for himself but distorts and erroneously states facts so that he can be the hero and the mastermind. After reading a few chapters, I became suspicious of Korda's "memory" when he always appeared as the brilliant, all-knowing catalyst of every event he was participating in. When I came to his chapter on his relationship with Graham Greene, I had the sense he was exaggerating his teenage friendship with the famous author - logic just wasn't on Korda's telling of the tale, especially since none of the principals are alive to offer a differing view, as is true for most of Korda's stories. But, as for facts, I decided to do some research and check what Korda was relating about his publshing career. Alas, he has created more fiction than fact in relating these tales. I could write half a book on his lies and misrepresentations, but I merely use one case in point. His experience with the bestselling novelist Susan Howatch. On pages 309 and 3l0 Korda presents Howatch as "some unknown woman in New Jersey sitting at her kitchen table and holding her baby as she wrote" the book which HE discovered and became the best seller "Penmarric".Read more ›
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By Edward on March 5 2000
Format: Hardcover
Michael Korda is like a garrulous relative at a family gathering who just won't shut up. There are a few (a very few) amusing anecdotes in this overly long tome, but oddly enough, I can't think of any just now. The one about Harold Robbins was sort of interesting, but then again, why would I be interested in Harold Robbins? It was surprising to learn just how much an editor contributes to an author's manuscript (if this is indeed true. Given the apparent size of Korda's ego, I wonder if he places a bit too much importance on his worth.), but after a while the book just gets tiresome and repetitive. Korda seems to have led an interesting (and very privileged) life, and has known a lot of people--too bad he can't convey it in a more interesting manner. And I got a little tired of hearing about what a phenomenally best-selling author he is--although none of his previous books are in print! Given the quality of the writing in this one, I'm not surprised. And the "I'm just a humble editor at heart" schtick at the end of the book just didn't ring true. Korda might be editor-to-the-stars, but humble he is not.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book for a graduate-level course in publishing. I learned many things about the publishing industry's history and publishing's changing role in American and international economy through 1998. The parts of the book that dealt directly with the publishing process were the most interesting to me. The last few chapters are the best. The gossipy bits about the author's colleagues did not interest me.
Another Life reveals an elitism that prevents me from enjoying the book as much as I want to. There is a persistent focus on accents, class, status, physical appearance, ethnic identity which alienates me slightly. Stereotypes such as the shoe-shining Black man, the inscrutable Chinese man, the Hispanic maid, the beer-drinking Irish man, the overbearing Jewish woman, the Mafia Italians, etc. are just too much. In this way, the reader could correctly assume that the publishing industry and the Hollywood entertainment industry have much in common.
One of publishing's latest trends is ignored - Oprah Winfrey. Oprah's Book Club has consistently influenced book sales since her book club began in 1996. In this way, several gems (Song of Solomon, A Lesson Before Dying, etc.) that were overlooked in the past came to the notice of the general public. On p.448 there is fleeting mention of the fact that her show is in Chicago.
I would have rated this book five stars except that Korda's editor should have cut the length by eliminating useless information and repetition of facts.
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