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Personal History

Katharine Graham

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Biography

An 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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Feb 03, 1997 – In 1963, Graham took over as publisher of the Washington Post as a classic grieving widow. Her husband, Phil, had shot himself at their country estate, defeated in a prolonged battle with manic depression. Since then, Graham's life has been an amazing ride as she "moved forward blindly and mindlessly into a new and unknown life" to become the tough chief executive who, during Watergate, looked the President of the United States in the eye and didn't blink. She ended up as chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Media company, whose possessions included newspapers, magazines and TV stations. She makes a vivid and persuasive case for why it was so daunting for a woman of her generation to become, in the eyes of many, the most powerful woman in America-a designation she hated. She took over the newspaper to preserve it for her children and came to love it as a publication and as a business. She now sees that her management skills were lacking (financier Warren Buffett gave her a crash course in acquisitions and became a major shareholder and close friend), but she has nothing but pride and pleasure in the newspaper that she led from obscurity to world renown. The first half of her story centers around life with Phil, the second on three pivotal events at the Post: the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate scandal and the prolonged pressman's strike of 1975. She lovingly attributes much of the Post's success to editor Benjamin C. Bradlee. Her narrative is at times uneven, swinging from passages that sound almost like "what I did last summer" to amazingly detailed insider accounts of moments of national crisis. Household names dot every page, woven in with the lives of her four children, one of whom, Donald, now runs both the paper and the company. Graham is frank but not gossipy, self-critical but not falsely modest. She presents her "personal history" with quiet courage and considerable wit. Photos. 200,000 first printing; Random House audio.
Personal History
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Feb 03, 1997
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 688 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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