BOOKS: Live by the Ax, Die by the Ax

One of publishing's fiercest buccaneer executives is summarily fired by his Viacom bosses

Last week Richard Snyder, the CEO of the huge publishing house Simon & Schuster, and his young, third wife Laura Yorke invited a dozen Manhattan media swells to a dinner party. The guest of honor was to be Snyder's new boss, Sumner Redstone. Redstone's company, Viacom, acquired Simon & Schuster when it bought Paramount Communications, which owned the publisher. But the day before the party, Redstone left a message on Snyder's answering machine, backing out.

Later that day, Snyder was fired.

Until then Snyder, 61, had been one of the most powerful executives in publishing. Aggressive and abrasive, he had run...

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