George Braziller became interested in publishing while he was working as a shipping clerk, his first job, during the Great Depression. In the 1940s, he founded the Book Find Club, which was smaller than the Book of the Month Club but exceedingly successful, “with a reputation for seriousness of purpose.” After the end of World War II, he sold the Book Find Club to Time–Life Publishing and put half of the proceeds into the publishing firm he founded in the mid-1950s.
When Braziller travelled to Europe in the late 1960s, he was in Paris during the events of May 1968 which led to the collapse of the de Gaulle government. Henri Alleg's autobiography La Question, which he brought back from that trip and published in English language translation, was his firm's first big success in the United States.
While I was there, a book came out [La Question]. I got the book, took it back to America, got a hold of Richard Howard to translate it, brought the book out overnight, and we sold 10,000 copies. Just like that we became famous. Those were really exciting times in Paris. I remember you’d go to the corner café, and there were artists like Max Ernst, Giacometti, Calder, and then the writers, poets, playwrights, dramatists like Camus, Michaux, Ionesco, Dürrenmatt.... Those were the early years, when you would say “only in America” could you start a book club with only 25 bucks and move it up to 100,000 members and then start a publishing house.
- Henry S. Sommerville. "2003 Visiting Fellow and Library Research Grant". Friends of the Princeton University Library. "The new publishing house followed the model of the book club, bringing out works of popular physical and social science, literature, and art, often reviving out-of-print books that found a grateful audience. Braziller soon added new fiction by foreign authors, especially French "new novelists," and debut novels by American authors...
“By the close of the 1960s, Braziller's importance as a publisher of literary and artistic books rivaled that of larger publishers and marked the firm as a leader in these fields. Princeton's manuscript holdings for George Braziller, Inc., fill fifty-seven boxes and cover a span of more than thirty years in the life of the company..."
- Gary Shapiro (March 2, 2006). "At 90, George Braziller Takes Time To Reflect". The New York Sun Knickerbocker column. "George Braziller — founder of the eponymous publishing house known for art books and exceptional foreign authors — greeted guests at the Salmagundi Art Club last week. The occasion was his 90th birthday party, organized by his family and attended by authors and friends eager to pay tribute. That loyalty, as a fine arts photographer and former editor of the Book of the Month Club Gloria Norris explained, lies in his total commitment to each and every book published under his auspices..."
- "George Braziller in conversation with Phong Bui". The Brooklyn Rail Interview. February 2005.
- Edwin McDowell (December 13, 1989). "The Gift of Words". The New York Times.