We’ve just learned that our dear friend Herbert Mitgang died this morning at the age of 93. Since joining the Authors Guild in 1957, Herb had been a stalwart supporter of the Guild and its organizations. He served as president of the Authors Guild and the Authors League Fund, devoting countless hours in the service of his fellow writers.
Herbert Mitgang began his distinguished writing career as an army correspondent for Stars and Stripes during World War II; he would soon become managing editor, first for the paper’s Oran-Casablanca edition, then for its Sicily edition. After the war, Herb joined the staff of The New York Times, where he would work for nearly five decades. (He also immediately became a writers’ activist, serving on the executive board of the Newspaper Guild of New York from 1948 to 1949.)
Among his many positions at The Times, Herb oversaw the paper’s Sunday drama section, served on its editorial board, was the first deputy editor of the Op-Ed page, acted as publishing correspondent, and was the paper’s daily book critic when he retired in 1995.
Herb Mitgang’s novels and works of history, biography, and memoir include Newsmen in Khaki: Tales of a World War II Soldier Correspondent (2004), Once Upon a Time in New York: Jimmy Walker, Franklin Roosevelt and the Last Great Battle of the Jazz Age (2000), Dangerous Dossiers: Exposing the Secret War Against America’s Greatest Authors (1988), Kings in the Counting House (1983), The Fiery Trial: A Life of Lincoln (1974), Working for the Reader: A Chronicle of Culture, Literature, War and Politics in Books from the 1950s to the Present (1970), and his first book, Lincoln as They Saw Him (1956).
He was also a playwright, a TV documentarian, and a contributor to virtually every major newsmagazine. Herb Mitgang received the George S. Polk Career Award in 1992 and was named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library in 1988.
The Board of Directors and staff of the Authors Guild and its related organizations are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Herbert Mitgang. His commitment to supporting writing as a livelihood inspired us all.
Herbert is survived by his wife Shirley Mitgang (née Kravchick), his son Lee Mitgang, his daughter Laura Mitgang, his sisters, Harriet Zweifach and Phyllis Ellstein, and three grandchildren.
The funeral will be held this Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Central Synagogue, 55th Street and Lexington.