Eventually, Eleanor quit and founded a news syndicate into which she poured her modest savings. She persisted for several years but she could not keep it afloat, and after it collapsed, her life spiraled downward. Darnton’s account of what later happened to his mother is unsparing of her, and of himself. Once, years ago, Darnton writes, he and his mother were lying on a beach in Westport, Connecticut, when she said to him, “Watch out for The New York Times. They use you like a sponge. They squeeze you dry and then they toss you away.” At that time, he didn’t know what she meant. Now, he writes, he has at least an inkling.


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James Boylan is CJR’s founding editor.