See all finding aids in this repository

Table of Contents

Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Guide to the Victor S. Navasky Papers TAM 594

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Jan Hilley, with the assistance of Mary Corcoran, Heather Mulliner, and Giana Ricci

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 25, 2018
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Heather Mulliner to include 2016 accession. Edited by Heather Mulliner to include 2017 accession  , November 2016 , April 2017

Historical/Biographical Note

Victor Navasky, highly regarded journalist, editor, author and educator, is best known for his close association with The Nation, America's longest continuously published weekly magazine. He was its editor from 1978-1995, publisher and editorial director from 1995-2005, and is now publisher emeritus. He has also written a number of award-winning books and contributed articles and reviews to numerous magazines and journals. Navasky is Professor of Journalism and Director of the George Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism at Columbia University and serves as Chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review.

Victor Navasky was born in New York City on July 5, 1932, the son of Macy Navasky and Esther (Goldberg) Navasky. His father ran a small clothing manufacturing business in the Garment District. From kindergarten through fifth grade, Navasky attended the Rudolf Steiner School and then the progressive Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School. After graduating in 1950, he went on to Swarthmore, where he earned Phi Beta Kappa honors and a degree in 1954. His majors were English Literature and Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy. A stint in the Army followed (1954-1956). He was stationed at Fort Richardson in Alaska.

After his military service, Navasky took advantage of the GI Bill to enroll at Yale Law School, earning his LLB in 1959. While at Yale, he and a friend, Richard Lingeman, started a magazine of political satire, Monocle, which they continued through mail subscription after graduation. They also published  The Outsider's Newsletter and then  The Radical Sporadical, with the last issue in 1965.

Navasky worked for a short time as a speechwriter for G. Mennen Williams, then governor of Michigan, and, after moving back to New York in 1960, began freelance writing for various publications, principally for The New York Times Magazine where he became an editor in 1970. In 1971 Navasky published  Kennedy Justice, an account of Robert Kennedy's tenure as Attorney General. It was a finalist for the 1972 National Book Award. By that time he had started a new book,  Naming Names, the outgrowth of an article on the Hollywood Ten that he wrote earlier for  The New York Times Magazine.  Naming Names would be published in 1980 and win the National Book Award in 1982.

During the 1970s, while working on Naming Names, Navasky coordinated the New York senatorial campaign of Ramsey Clark, wrote a monthly column ("In Cold Print") for the  New York Times Book Review, and taught for a time at New York University in its adult education program, as well as at a number of other colleges and universities. One course, for example, at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, focused on informers and cooperative witnesses. Navasky was the Ferris Visiting Professor of Journalism at Princeton (1976-1977).

In 1978, Victor Navasky became editor of The Nation and, in 1995, its publisher and editorial director. Those responsibilities were handed over to Katrina vanden Heuvel in 2005, and Navasky became publisher emeritus.

In 1984, Navasky (with Christopher Cerf) published The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation and, in 2008, in a similar vein,  Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq, each book a compilation of the collective wisdom of many individuals presumed to know what they talking about, but who get it very wrong. Navasky won a George Polk Book Award in 2005 for  A Matter of Opinion, part memoir and part meditation on opinion journalism. He released  The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power in 2013. His most recent publication is an eBook,  The O'Dell File (2014).

Victor Navasky has been married since 1966 to Anne (Strongin) Navasky. They live in New York City and have two daughters, Miri and Jenny, and a son, Bruno.