Personal History

Personal History Author Katharine Graham
ISBN-10 0375701044
ISBN-13 9780375701047
Year 1998-02-24
Pages 642
Language English
Publisher Vintage
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Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for BiographyAn extraordinarily frank honest and generous book by one of America s most famous and admired women Personal History is as its title suggests a book composed of both personal memoir and history It is the story of Graham s parents the multimillionaire father who left private business and government service to buy and restore the down and out Washington Post and the formidable self absorbed mother who was more interested in her political and charity work and her passionate friendships with men like Thomas Mann and Adlai Stevenson than in her children It is the story of how The Washington Post struggled to succeed a fascinating and instructive business history as told from the inside the paper has been run by Graham herself her father her husband and now her son It is the story of Phil Graham Kay s brilliant charismatic husband he clerked for two Supreme Court justices whose plunge into manic depression betrayal and eventual suicide is movingly and charitably recounted Best of all it is the story of Kay Graham herself She was brought up in a family of great wealth yet she learned and understood nothing about money She is half Jewish yet incredibly remained unaware of it for many years She describes herself as having been naive and awkward yet intelligent and energetic She married a man she worshipped and he fascinated and educated her and then in his illness turned from her and abused her This destruction of her confidence and happiness is a drama in itself followed by the even more intense drama of her new life as the head of a great newspaper and a great company a famous and even feared woman in her own right Hers is a life that came into its own with a vengeance a success story on every level Graham s book is populated with a cast of fascinating characters from fifty years of presidents and their wives to Steichen Brancusi Felix Frankfurter Warren Buffett her great advisor and protector Robert McNamara George Schultz her regular tennis partner and of course the great names from the Post Woodward Bernstein and Graham s editorpartner Ben Bradlee She writes of them and of the most dramatic moments of her stewardship of the Post including the Pentagon Papers Watergate and the pressmen s strike with acuity humor and good judgment Her book is about learning by doing about growing and growing up about Washington and about a woman liberated by both circumstance and her own great strengths

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