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Tom Wolfe on the Birth of the ‘New Journalism’


In 1973, Tom Wolfe published The New Journalism; the seminal book was part manifesto for a new style of nonfiction writing and part anthology of its early greatest hits. It contained work by Wolfe, Gay Talese, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, Truman Capote, and Norman Mailer, among others. Below is a short excerpt from the book’s first chapter, where Wolfe introduces his premise. The chapter originally appeared in the February 14, 1972 issue of New York Magazine as “The Birth of ‘The New Journalism’: An Eyewitness Report” and was later reprinted in The New Journalism.

And yet in the early 1960s a curious new notion, just hot enough to inflame the ego, had begun to intrude into the tiny confines of the feature statusphere. It was in the nature of a discovery. This discovery, modest at first, humble, in fact, deferential, you might say, was that it just might be possible to…

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