The offices of major New York book publishers are havens of liberalism—and then there’s Adam Bellow. He was an editor at Doubleday and now has a senior position at HarperCollins, with success in both places pushing further down in stories about him the description that was once a lead: son of Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow.

What was it like to graduate from Princeton in 1980 and go to work at the very blue-collar New York Daily News? It was the right thing to do, to start in the classic copy boy role and work my way up. My job was to be a gofer, to do whatever anybody needed to be done, from photocopying articles to carrying a 25-pound turkey for five or six blocks, moving it from one car to another.

You weren’t too proud, as an Ivy League graduate, to be photocopying? I thought it was a privilege.

What did you learn there? My time at the News got me out of my liberal cocoon. I grew up going to school with the New York City elite. Everyone had the same political opinions: anti-war movement, hatred of Nixon. At Princeton, I was among people of the same background. It wasn’t until I went to the News that I met people outside of my background. A lot of these guys had never gone to college, and in many cases, their fathers had worked at the paper as well, and their sons worked there. I saw a strong core of decency, of patriotism, of willingness to go out of their way for someone who was considered part of the family. Once I had gone through the hazing, I was embraced.

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