For the past twenty-five years, Harry Evans (formally, but rarely, known as Sir Harold Evans) has been based in New York in a succession of high-profile media roles, including publisher of the Random House Trade Division, founding editor of Condé Nast Traveler, best-selling author, and husband of Tina Brown. But before all that, Harry already had made his name as hands-down the best newspaper editor in Britain of his era, mainly at the Sunday Times. Now 81, Evans has written his memoir, covering the full arc of his very full life. His youth and early career take nearly half the book and have an elegance and generosity of style. Harry does everything with verve, and this autobiography is, to use a time-honored encomium, rollicking.
But at the core of the book is also an element of melancholy, not about the time he has spent so productively, but because he believes the courageous spirit of journalism's best features are endangered. He titled his book My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times, reflecting his sense that myriad pressures are debilitating newspapers without providing the clear path to how they will be adequately replaced. Evans's career always has been characterized by creative optimism. In recent years, he was involved with the Week, the American offshoot of a British weekly that is a well-edited aggregator in print format and that has defied the odds and succeeded in this very troubled period. And, on his next-to-last page, he cites the Daily Beast, Tina Brown's lively Web site, which he mentions in the midst of declaring his hopes for the best of newspaper traditions to be combined with the potential of Web technology.