Since its mid-Sixties death, the Herald Tribune has grown in legend as the newspaperman's newspaper. This lovingly detailed valentine to its memory is written by a former reporter for the paper, who says that every time a newspaper dies, ``the country moves a little closer to authoritarianism . . . and when a great one goes, . . .history is denied a devoted witness.'' A typical journalism history of a single paper, however good, doesn't quite make that point. Kluger's Simple Justice (1976) , which chronicled the judicial drive to end segregated public schools, grew in stature as the detail accrued; here the detail simply buries the import of the story. Still, while this may not be the grand social commentary Kluger would have liked, it is a splendidly told story of a newspaper. Dan Levinson, English & History Depts., Thayer Acad., Braintree, Mass.