Legendary Knopf and New Yorker Editor Bob Gottlieb Dies at Age 92


Bob Caro, Bob Gottlieb, and Bob Massie.
(Photo: Martha Kaplan)

It is with great sadness that we report that our beloved former head of house, Bob Gottlieb, died today at the age of 92. He died of natural causes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

A literary giant whose career spanned more than seven decades, Bob joined Knopf in 1968 as president and editor-in-chief. He was only the second head of house, succeeding Alfred Knopf, who founded the company in 1915 and ran it for the next 53 years. In 1987, Bob left to become editor of the New Yorker, where he worked until 1992, when he returned to edit at Knopf. Bob’s illustrious list of authors includes Robert Caro, John Cheever, Doris Lessing, John le Carre, Michael Crichton, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Robert Massie, Bob Dylan, Ray Bradbury, Bill Gates, Katharine Graham, Barbara Tuchman, Nora Ephron, Joseph Heller, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Bill Clinton, Miss Piggy, and many, many others.

Reagan Arthur, Knopf EVP & Publisher said: “It would be hard to name an editor who had a more lasting and profound impact on American letters. Bob was a consummate editor and also, as his aptly titled memoir put it, an avid reader, with an endless appetite for stories and voices that led him to champion authors of astonishing talent across multiple genres. He had a vision not just for what worked on the page, but what worked in the marketplace, and as editor-in-chief of Alfred A. Knopf, he led our imprint to new heights of literary and commercial success. Bob loved language and he loved books, and countless writers and readers are the richer for it.”

Without doubt, Bob’s longest working relationships was with Robert Caro, whose first book, THE POWER BROKER, the acclaimed, best-selling, and award-winning biography of Robert Moses, was edited by Bob and was published by Knopf in 1974. He also edited the first four volumes of Caro’s monumental biography of Lyndon Johnson (the final volume is still in the works), and his 2019 book, WORKING. A documentary about their famous collaboration, Turn Every Page, directed by Bob’s daughter Lizzie Gottlieb, was released last year.

Robert A. Caro said: “I have never encountered a publisher or editor with a greater understanding of what a writer was trying to do — and how to help him do it. From the day fifty-two years ago that we first looked at my pages together, Bob understood what I was trying to do and made it possible for me to take the time, and do the work, I needed to do. People talk to me about some of the triumphant moments Bob and I shared, but today I remember other moments, tough ones, and I remember how Bob was always, always, for half a century, there for me. He was a great friend, and today I mourn my friend with all my heart.”

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April 29, 1931 – June 14, 2023

Posted: June 15, 2023