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Quent Reynolds never got up before noon. He was
usually around the town all night as a reporter, having a
few here and a few there. He would stagger to bed in the
wee hours. But I woke him up at nine o'clock and he came to
the phone mumbling, “What?" I said, “It's so important I
had to tell you this, Quent.” I read him out the telegram
about Darryl Zanuck being the first one into Tobruk.
Quent's stream of profanity I'll never forget. It was one
of the funny episodes of the war years at Random House!
Meanwhile, we were doing these war books. Modern
Library was sailing along. The only thing that stopped us
was that paper was scarce. Paper was rationed. We could
have sold many more books but we couldn't proliferate too
much because the paper quota was based on what we had gotten
the year before. Well, all of this led to something that
I'll come back to in a minute, but I want to tell you about
myself at this time.
I thought at that time that we needed some humor.
Things were going badly for us at the beginning of the War.
We weren't ready. As is usually the case, the dictators
are ready and the liberty loving people are caught with their
pants down. Which we were! Until we caught up, we were in
trouble. Of course, we'd lost the Philippines and Bataan
fell. Then there was that grim day when the Prince of Wales
and The Repulse were sunk in Singapore. There was a fellow
there covering this who was on the Prince of Wales when it
went down named Cecil Brown. He was doing radio. I cabled
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