The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983-1992 by Tina Brown - review by Cosmo Landesman

Cosmo Landesman

Glitz Spirit

The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983-1992


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 436pp £25 order from our bookshop

have to admit that before reading this book I was one of the anti-Tina Brown brigade who believed that she was all buzz and no balls – an editor infamous for sucking up to the rich and fawning before the famous. Yes, she may have brought Vanity Fair back from the dead and later rescued The New Yorker, but Brown killed intelligent, quality magazine journalism with her lethal injection of glitz and glamour. And worst of all, she never once commissioned me to write for her! But now – four hundred pages later – I confess: I love Tina. I’m sorry. I hate myself. But I can’t help it. How did this happen?

Brown’s diary starts in 1983, when, fresh from her success as editor and saviour of Tatler magazine in London, she arrived in New York to work as an editorial consultant for Vanity Fair, which had been revived by Condé Nast. Within a year she had become the magazine’s editor and soon was the toast of Manhattan.

The memoirs of glossy magazine editors have as their selling point the promise of juicy insider gossip. But Brown doesn’t really do tittle-tattle or the who-shagged-who revelations of the tabloid press. Hers is more who-shafted-who in the Machiavellian world of media and publishing. So there are no OMG revelations, unless you count the news that Debra Winger didn’t shave her armpits.

But it’s a very entertaining work of social history. Tina takes us along to a thousand and one parties with the demigods of the New York media and the Demi Moores of the Hollywood A-list. We get to meet and greet everyone: the Reagans, the Kissingers, Rupert Murdoch,

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