Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker


Product Details

$30.00  $27.90
Random House
Publish Date
6.5 X 9.4 X 1.2 inches | 1.5 pounds

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About the Author

Thomas Kunkel is the president of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. He has served as president of American Journalism Review and as dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. He is the author or editor of five previous books, including Genius in Disguise, Enormous Prayers, and Letters from the Editor. He and his wife, Debra, have four grown daughters.


"[An] authoritative new biography [about] our greatest literary journalist . . . [Thomas] Kunkel is the ideal biographer of Joseph Mitchell: As the author of Genius in Disguise--his acclaimed book about Harold Ross, The New Yorker's founding editor--Kunkel is one of the great authorities on the ethos of both the magazine (a world all its own, to be sure) and New York newspapers in their picaresque heyday. Better still, he's a writer and craftsman worthy of his subject."--Blake Bailey, The New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)

"Man in Profile has two great strengths. One is Kunkel's impressively broad and intuitive feel for Mitchell's inner life. . . . The second great strength of Kunkel's biography is its emphasis on writing. This might sound inevitable in recounting the life of a writer but it's not. . . . The result is a richly persuasive portrait of a man who cared about everybody and everything."--London Review of Books

"Mitchell's life and achievements are brought vividly alive in [this] splendid book. For far too long, Mitchell has been a writer's writer. Now, thanks to Kunkel, he can finally be discovered by the rest of us."--Chicago Tribune

"A thoughtful and sympathetic new biography."--Ruth Franklin, The Atlantic

"Excellent . . . Joseph Mitchell devotees--and we are many--do not tire of thinking or talking about the man. . . . One thing we generally do not discuss is the need for a Mitchell biography. . . . Now that Thomas Kunkel has provided one with Man in Profile, it turns out that a first-rate Mitchell biography was very much in order."--The Wall Street Journal

"Man in Profile is an elegant and moving biography of a subject who was as much a New York character as his New York characters were, someone who deeply believed in the city's magic and added to its store of idiosyncrasy."--The New York Times

"An entertaining and useful book . . . a must-read for Mitchellites."--The Washington Post

"Kunkel brings great sensitivity and sympathy [as well as] equal authority and wit to Mitchell's [story], making us care about the man, not just the writer."--The Boston Globe

"How it happened that the patron saint of literary journalism, who died in 1996, has not inspired a biography until now is confounding, but Thomas Kunkel's illuminating Man in Profile rewards the wait. . . . Lively and insightful."--San Francisco Chronicle

"[Joseph Mitchell] showed there was a story in everyone, if only you took the time to listen; advice that eludes most humans, let alone young journalists. . . . Thomas Kunkel valiantly captures [Mitchell's own biography]."--The New Republic

"A portrait of a genteel, jovial but deeply conflicted soul . . . Mitchell remains as quirky and compelling a character as any he ever wrote about."--Star-News (Wilmington, NC)

"Remarkable . . . Any writer with aspirations in literary journalism--or creative nonfiction or narrative nonfiction, whatever phrase suits you--has to reckon with Mitchell."--Columbia Journalism Review

"[A] long-awaited biography of this demon-driven journalist . . . lovingly unearthed . . . exactly the sort of dope for which readers lustily gut the biography of a writer they love, the only kind of gossip that even begins to rival reading the writer's writing itself."--Los Angeles Review of Books

"A compelling book on one of the more revered journalists of the twentieth century, warts and all."--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"For those in love with the New Yorker, this tale of a bygone period in the magazine's history will be nirvana. For those interested in writers' lives, it will be the start of a hunt for Mitchell's own books."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A vivid portrait of the writer best known for his pioneering literary nonfiction . . . chronicling the lives of some of [New York City's] most colorful denizens."--Library Journal

"Illuminating . . . a finely delineated portrait."--Kirkus Reviews

"[Thomas] Kunkel, acclaimed author of Genius in Disguise, a biography of New Yorker founder Harold Ross, captures Mitchell's genius, his quiet but dogged writing process, and his triumphs and disappointments. . . . An enlightening look at an influential writer and other luminaries of the New York writing scene."--Booklist

"With Man in Profile, Thomas Kunkel has given us a revelatory portrait of one of the most admired and enigmatic journalists of the twentieth century, a celebration of the hidden people and places of New York City, and a literary mystery of the first order."--Gay Talese, author of A Writer's Life

"What could be as pleasurable as reading a New Yorker piece by Joseph Mitchell? Here is an answer: reading Man in Profile. With groundbreaking research and a felicitous touch deserving of the subject, Thomas Kunkel not only brings the great writer back to life but greatly enhances our understanding of how he thought and wrote and, in the end, did not write."--David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Barack Obama and First in His Class

"Some of the most memorable writing of the last century has become the fodder for what is one of the most memorable biographies thus far this century. Thomas Kunkel probes Joseph Mitchell's life and career with empathy and unflinching reportage."--Gene Roberts, Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author of The Race Beat

"A three-dimensional portrait of a conflicted Southerner who fled his cotton-and-tobacco-farm childhood to spend most of his adult life in passionate acquisition of the people, the parks, the buildings, the bridges and waterways, the graveyards, and, pacing every inch of them, the very sidewalks of New York. Thomas Kunkel gives readers, Mitchellites and newcomers alike, not just a Man in Profile but a great writer in all his holistic glory."--Janet Groth, author of The Receptionist

"Joseph Mitchell, the finest reporter ever published in The New Yorker, is fortunate to have Thomas Kunkel as his biographer. This is a beautiful book."--Susan Sheehan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Is There No Place on Earth for Me?

"Joseph Mitchell was the great artist/reporter of the twentieth century, cousin as a stylist to Twain and Joyce. Reading Man in Profile is like talking to Mitchell on intimate terms after finishing one of his exact and lyrical stories."--Alec Wilkinson, author of The Ice Balloon

"Joseph Mitchell, a great American writer who changed the way we see our country and especially New York City, lucked out in having Thomas Kunkel for a biographer. This insightful, thorough, and well told account of Mitchell's life and work will go a long way toward bringing him the wider recognition he deserves."--Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia and Great Plains

"Thomas Kunkel's remarkable portrait of Joseph Mitchell goes down as easily as the light and dark ales at Old John McSorley's timeless New York saloon. Reading it is like drinking with the legends of The New Yorker and stalking the night city with the characters Mitchell immortalized: oystermen and graveyard workers, scoundrels and dreamers."--Michael Capuzzo, author of Close to Shore and The Murder Room

"With great diligence and empathy, Thomas Kunkel gives us Joseph Mitchell in full: the sources of his unbounded curiosity and ease in the natural world, his profound gifts as an observer and listener, his spiritual restlessness, his enormous heart, his incomparable voice. We are immensely in his debt."--Mark Singer, author of Character Studies

"I enjoyed this book immensely. It helped me hear how much of the magic in Joseph Mitchell's writing had to do with his cadence, his use of lists, concrete facts. It brought me inside his methods--of walking, lingering, visiting, and the way his work seeped into his life and vice versa. Some of Mitchell's writing quoted in the book appears here for the first time, and it is thrilling to read it. Now and then I put the book down so I could savor it and think through the many ironies, layers, and textures Thomas Kunkel has brought before us about this singular writer and man."--Thomas Beller, author of The Sleep-Over Artist and J. D. Salinger