NYT Book Review slammed for letting a Kissinger pal review Niall Ferguson's biography of Kissinger

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tags: Niall Ferguson, Kissinger

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●  Corruption at the NYT Book Review By Corey Robin

●  NYT ombudsman discussion of the controversy 

This Sunday, the New York Times Book Review will publish a review of the first volume of Niall Ferguson’s authorized biography of Henry Kissinger, Kissinger: The Idealist. The reviewer is Andrew Roberts. 

Roberts brings an unusual level of familiarity to the subject: It was Roberts whom Kissinger first asked, before turning to Ferguson, to write his authorized biography. In other words, the New York Times is having Kissinger’s preferred authorized biographer review Kissinger’s authorized biography.

Here’s an interview/profile of Roberts from 2009: "He had previously, through his friendship with Henry Kissinger, been offered the job of writing his official biography, but faced with the 30 tons of material in the former secretary of state’s archive and his reluctance to employ researchers – preferring to sift himself – he passed it by. Niall Ferguson has now taken the job. [Says Roberts:] 'Niall is a tenured professor and has a team of researchers – he’s also, and I’m the first to admit it, far, far cleverer than I am and will do a wonderful job.' ”

And now, in the New York Times, Roberts has confirmed his own forecast: If the second volume ends up being as good as he finds the first, Ferguson’s biography will be, Roberts says, a “masterpiece.”

Oh, and Roberts isn’t just close to the subject of the book he is reviewing. He has also been, for a quarter-century, a friend of the book’s author. In a 2006 profile of Ferguson, “The Empire Rebuilder,” The Guardian pointed out that Roberts, who is quoted calling Ferguson “the brightest historian of his generation,” might be “a little biased,” because Roberts had been, at that point, Ferguson’s “friend of 15 years.” 

UPDATE 10-2-15

Corey Robin reports: "Not only is Roberts, as Greg Grandin reported in his Gawker piece, a quarter-century-long friend of Ferguson's (contrary to Roberts's claim that they only met a few times). He also, my friend Jonathan Stein told me, co-wrote an article with Ferguson back in 1997. In a volume of essays edited by Ferguson. Here's the cite: Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts, 'Hitler's England: What If Germany had Invaded Britain in May 1940?' in Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, ed. Niall Ferguson (London: Picador, 1997), 281–320."

Read entire article at Gawker

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