Richard Snow: Announces suspension of American Heritage

Historians in the News

[On May 17, 2007 Forbes suspended publication of American Heritage (the website remains in operation). Richard Snow is the editor.]

... Mr. Snow, 59, went to work in the American Heritage mailroom in 1965, when Columbia University insisted he take a little time off, and joined the staff full time when he finally graduated, in 1970. He has been there ever since, and in 1990 he became the magazine’s sixth editor, succeeding Byron Dobell.

Either he was a perfect fit to begin with, or over the years he has taken on many of the characteristics of his workplace, for he now closely resembles his own magazine. He is quite youthful looking, on one hand (probably because he is one of those people who mature early and then never change), and a little old-fashioned on the other. He speaks in perfectly turned paragraphs and may be the last person left in New York to unself-consciously use “indeed” as an exclamation.

He favors gray suits and sweater vests, his telephone manners are impeccable, and he has a bubbling, high-pitched voice that turns a simple “hello” into something that resembles the opening bar of a Broadway show tune. Like his magazine he has an almost insatiable curiosity and is particularly expert on the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, not to mention Coney Island amusement rides at the turn of the last century.

Mr. Snow has been at American Heritage long enough that he can remember when it was an empire in the mid-’60s, employing 400 people, with the magazine as a flagship for what was in effect a publishing company selling books, many of them by some of America’s best-known popular historians, by direct mail. He was managing editor in 1980, when the magazine ceased publishing in hardback (except for subscribers who wanted to shell out extra for what Mr. Snow now calls a “padded, leatheroid edition”), and in 1982 when, bowing to economic necessity, it began soliciting ads.

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