Hendrik Hertzberg

Photo credit: Grace Villamil

 On this date in 1943, journalist Hendrik Hertzberg was born in New York City to Hazel Manross (née Whitman), a professor of history and education at Columbia University, and Sidney Hertzberg, a journalist and political activist. His father was Jewish and had become an atheist; his mother was a Quaker with a Congregationalist background. He graduated from Harvard University in 1965, where he wrote for the Harvard Crimson and became managing editor.

Shortly after graduation he started working as a reporter at the San Francisco bureau of Newsweek. During the Vietnam War he joined the U.S. Navy and was posted in New York City for two years. In 1969 he began writing for the New Yorker, a post he held until 1977. He worked as a speechwriter for Gov. Hugh Carey, then joined President Jimmy Carter’s speechwriting team and was made the head speechwriter in 1979.

Hertzberg became the editor of The New Republic in 1981 and held positions at the Institute of Politics and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. Hertzberg joined The New Yorker in 1992 and worked as executive director, senior editor and was the main contributor to essays on politics and society in The Talk of the Town column until 2014.

Hertzberg’s books include One Million (1970), which attempts to make large numbers less abstract, Politics: Observations and Arguments (2005), which includes discussions on the Religious Right and the importance of secularism and humanism; and ¡Obamanos! The Birth of a New Political Order (2010), which chronicles the 2008 election. Forbes named Hertzberg the seventeenth most influential liberal in the U.S. media in 2005. He is married to Virginia Cannon, a Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor. They have a son, Wolf.

Hertzberg in 2014. Photo (cropped) by Ed Lederman/PEN American Center under CC 2.0

Freedom From Religion Foundation