Bloomberg and the Art of Running … Everything?

Just short of her 30th anniversary at The New York Times, the editor and writer Joyce Purnick will leave to write a biography of Michael Bloomberg.

The book is tentatively titled Michael Bloomberg: Mayor, Mogul, Philanthropist: The Art of Running Anything.

Ms. Purnick said that the book, which will be published by PublicAffairs, would cover everything from Mr. Bloomberg’s childhood growing up in the suburbs of Boston, to his rise on Wall Street, to his reign as Mayor. And what about Mr. Bloomberg’s possible Presidential bid?

All that, she said on a recent Friday afternoon, came after her book deal. Ms. Purnick was on the phone from her vacation house on Fire Island, her five grandchildren audibly running around in the background.

“He says he’s not running,” said Ms. Purnick. “I take him at his word, and I hope I’m wrong. If he changes his mind, it changes the project. And I haven’t fully factored that in.”

This will be her first book. The rigors of daily journalism, she said, had always come first.

In the 70’s, she covered the city and politics for the New York Post. Shortly after Rupert Murdoch bought the Post in 1977, she left for New York magazine. After a brief stint, she joined The New York Times in 1979, where she has worked ever since. Along the way, she has served as a columnist, as the top editor of the metro department and as a member of the editorial board. In 1988, she married Max Frankel the then–executive editor of The Times.

Why Bloomberg?

“I think he’s learned how to lead,” said Ms. Purnick. “That’s really interesting. I didn’t predict it. You can look up my column, Metro Matters. I didn’t think he would fail. But I remember writing about how the city likes large, aggressive, in-your-face Mayors. He wasn’t that, and he isn’t that. Yet the city has accepted him. What does that say about him? What does that say about New Yorkers?”

Ms. Purnick said that she would like to have the book—which will be edited by PublicAffairs’ founder and editor-at-large Peter Osnos and executive editor Clive Priddle—on store shelves before Mr. Bloomberg leaves City Hall in January 2010. She declined to discuss the size of her advance.

In March of 2006, Times executive editor Bill Keller wrote a memo to the paper’s staff, expressing his concern about the “tidal surge” of staffers taking time off to write books. Ms. Purnick said that The Times has been supportive of her decision.

“I am resigning with a written understanding that once I’m ready, I’ll return and I won’t lose my seniority and I won’t lose my standing at the paper,” said Ms. Purnick. “They’ve been very kind.”