Cover image for The honest rainmaker : the life and times of Colonel John R. Stingo
The honest rainmaker : the life and times of Colonel John R. Stingo
Liebling, A. J. (Abbott Joseph), 1904-1963.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : North Point Press, 1989.
Physical Description:
xi, 159 pages ; 23 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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PN4874.S6884 L54 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Tales of rainmaking, horse-racing, and soul-saving boisterously fill these pages, along with the edifying histories of such worthy entities as the U.S. Weather Control Bureau, the Great American Hog Syndicate, and the Mid-Continental Chinchilla Rabbitry.

Author Notes

A. J. Liebling was an urbane and prolific journalist whose style, incorporating first-person narrative, street talk, and exuberant metaphor, became a model for the New Journalism of the 1960's and later. Although he came from a genteel New York family, he was fascinated by the irreverent underworld all his life and made it his special subject.

After being expelled from Dartmouth College for refusing to attend chapel, Liebling graduated from Columbia University's Pulitzer School of Journalism in 1925 and then worked for various newspapers, including The New York Times, which fired him, and the New York World, before he found his metier at The New Yorker magazine in 1935. It was there that he developed his signature style and did his best work, writing about a wide range of subjects, from the city's characters to gastronomy to boxing to the London Blitz and the Normandy invasion. A born raconteur with a fertile imagination, Liebling carved out a territory between objective reporting and fiction, which so many other journalists have mined since. Yet he could also produce straight war reportage fine enough to merit receiving the Legion of Honor from a grateful France in 1952.

Starting in 1945, Liebling wrote a widely admired column for The New Yorker called "The Wayward Pressman," in which he criticized American journalism's priorities and performance. This was probably the first such column in U.S. journalism. During the 1950s and 1960s, he also wrote book reviews for Esquire. Besides his massive newspaper and magazine output, Liebling wrote about 20 books. He was married three times, the last time to the writer Jean Stafford.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

A welcome reminder of the multifaceted talents and fecund curiosity of the legendary New Yorker writer, this chronicles Liebling's fascination with the shenanigans of wayward septuagenarian horse-racing journalist James A. Macdonald, aka Col. John R. Stingo. As the two roam Manhattan saloons and seamy neighborhoods in the 1940s, Stingo's effervescent, overblown, inimitable chatter--liberally laced with ``labyrinthian'' digressions--affectionately recalls and reinvents (he ``never permits facts to interfere with the exercise of his imagination'') a motley crew of swindlers, suckers and crazies. A hunchbacked shoeshine man at the Belmont Park racing track sells women a good-luck touch of his hump for $10; a self-made scientist convinces the Belmont authorities that he can prevent rain; a racing sheet publisher is sued by a neglected wife ``because she said if I hadn't given him the winners he wouldn't have had any money the broads would have let him alone he would of been home with her!''no punctuation,just one long runon/pk (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved