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‘Thanksgiving’ directs with uncompromising authority

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As a young reporter, I was fascinated by a news service item dispatched every day. It was a budget or list of what would be on the front page of The New York Times the next morning. The theory was that editors at newspapers large and small across the country would see what the Times thought was important and would adjust their own news judgment accordingly. You know, many did — and do.

That sense of almost magisterial authority runs through Sam Sifton’s useful new book, “Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well” (Random House, $18). Once the Times’ restaurant critic, where he would spend T-Day answering calls from panicked readers, and now national editor, Sifton is not shy when it comes to telling you how to observe the holiday — and use his book.

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