Steve Wasserman

Steve Wasserman


* Former Editor of the “Los Angeles Times Book Review”
* Political protégé of New Left radical Robert Scheer
* Former Editor-in-Chief of New Republic Books
* Former editor of the leftist Jewish journal “Tikkun”

Steve Wasserman is currently a director of the literary agency Kneerim & Williams and the manager of its New York office. He was formerly Editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review from 1996 to 2005. In that post, coupled with his role as a member of several juries deciding which books were awarded Pulitzer Prizes, he was in a powerful position to influence which books and authors got published and read. He is also currently the publisher and executive director of Heyday Books and a consulting editor to Yale University Press.

Wasserman was born in August 1952 in Vancouver, Washington. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1974 and became a political protégé of New Left radical Robert Scheer.

In 1975-76 Wasserman worked as an Assistant Editor at the City Magazine of San Francisco. He moved to Los Angeles and from 1977-83 was Deputy Editor of the Sunday Opinion Section of the Los Angeles Times, where Scheer was National Correspondent.

During the years 1980-86 Wasserman also was an editor of The Threepenny Review, a literary magazine published in Berkeley, California. From 1986-90 he was an editor of the Jewish left journal Tikkun, which was founded by Michael Lerner.

In 1984 Wasserman moved to New York, where, for the next three years, he would serve as Editor-in-Chief of New Republic Books, the book publishing arm of The New Republic magazine. From 1987-90 he worked for the Noonday Press and Hill & Wang imprints of Farrar, Straus and Giroux publishers. From 1990-96 he worked for Random House publishers as Editorial Director of its division Times Books.

In 1996 Wasserman returned to Los Angeles to become Editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Under Wasserman’s control, that publication moved far to the ideological left in its choice and treatment of authors, books and topics — a stark contrast to what it originally had been under founding editor Art Seidenbaum during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1997 Wasserman was co-director of the L.A. Times Festival of Books, and he joined the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle. In 1998 he founded the L.A. Institute for the Humanities and became its co-director. In 1999 he was named the Donald and Doris Fischer lecturer at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, whose Dean was Orville Schell, an editor at The Nation.

In 2000 Wasserman worked as an instructor in the professional writing program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In 2001 he was Chairman of the Pulitzer Prize Nominating Jury for General Nonfiction books. And in 2002 he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Nominating Jury for Fiction.

In April 2008 Wasserman expressed the following opinions vis a vis U.S. relations with Fidel Castro’s Communist Cuba:

“As for the United States, Washington’s continuing refusal to award Cuba the relations it is willing to accord other Communist countries—like China and Vietnam—is petulance raised to the level of policy. Cuba’s heresy does not rest on Castro’s Communist conceits. Rather, it rests on its unwillingness to accept America’s hemispheric hegemony…. Castro’s threat does not lie in his fealty to Marxist dogma, but rather in the delusions suffered by planners in the Pentagon, and his enduring example of stiff-necked resistance to American hubris. For in the eyes of Washington’s imperial overlords, Castro’s greatest sin is his pride, and that they can never forgive.”

Wasserman was a great admirer of the late author Susan Sontag.

Today Wasserman is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and an adjunct professor in New York University’s Department of Cultural Reporting and Journalism.

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