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Irascible Mentor

Beth Schulman

Email exchange, 3/10/05:

Me to him: I think of you every day as I look at the Chalmers Johnson book on my bedside table that I am too tired to read.”

Jimmy replies: Read the book … and push mine [The Long Detour].”

How apt. Right to the end, a dear and irascible mentor. 

Jimmy instructed all new ITT staff to read The Corporate Ideal in the Liberal State. Having become a charter subscriber in 1976 because of reading Corporate Ideal, I came to my 1990 interview for a job at the paper” as associate publisher (or, in Jimmy’s lexicon, a beggar”) unwittingly over-prepared. To my continuing astonishment, I landed the job largely because I had long since reorganized my understanding of contemporary American history around his analysis of the Progressive Era. 

Fifteen years hence, I am still stunned: He hired me because I could articulate historical arguments. I had raised money before, but not the boatloads we needed. Could I have raised as much money from thoughtful ITT readers over the years if I had understood more about direct mail technique than I did about corporate liberalism? Wily Weinstein thought not. 

His impulsive decision reshaped my life. Yet our relationship stayed focused on the essentials: When I saw him on May 28, he made me promise again to push the book” and did not relax against the pillows until I recorded his instructions in my notebook.

Beth Schulman is both a former associate publisher and publisher of In These Times.
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