He was the quintessential Timesman back in the days when that meant something. A New England neighbor, I used to see him at the train station, impeccably dressed for his foray down to New York City, tie perfectly knotted, silver hair befitting the reportorial, authorial and editorial legend he was.
He was best known as the Times‘s correspondent in Moscow, where his work was sometimes criticized for being too friendly to the Soviets (Salisbury blamed the Russian censors), but he also wrote an acclaimed book about the city of Leningrad’s 900-day siege by the Wehrmacht and later became the first editor of the newspaper’s Op-Ed page, which celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this week.
“He can report, he can write, he can edit, he can see story ideas, he can direct others,” [Times managing editor Turner Catledge] said. “He can do all these things because, besides having natural talent, he has a passion to excel.”
You can certainly quibble with some of Salisbury’s judgments — he wasn’t the only Times reporter to evince a fondness for the Russians — but there is no gainsaying his remarkable career and his contributions to a once-great newspaper.