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Personal History ()

Pulitzer Prize (Biography) (1998)

I'll have to take the word of nearly every pundit in America that Katharine Graham was one terrific gal, but I remain mystified as to what she actually achieved.  In this interminable book, we are submitted to every tremor of inadequacy she ever felt, as she bathes in self-indulgent recollection.  But what else is there once you get past the feelings, the many, many, feelings :

(1) She was born rich.

(2) Her husband went nuts, got himself a girlfriend and tried taking the Post away.  In the midst of this struggle, he was released from an asylum, went with her to their vacation home, and was carted out in a body bag.  She got the Post.

(3) She and the Post were in bed, either figuratively or--she at least hints--literally, with Adlai Stevenson, JFK, and LBJ.

(4) As a result, they gave the personal misdeeds of Democrat presidents a wink and a nod and supported Vietnam through the 60s.  Then Nixon got elected and they published the Pentagon Papers and jumped on Watergate like a wolf on a lamb chop.

(5) They then skated on their new reputation for the next thirty years as the upstart Washington Times, which is owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon for God's sake, scooped them left an right.

(6) Meanwhile, and I'm particularly perplexed by why this doesn't bother more people, the Post supported Marion Barry as he drove Washington, DC into the ground, presumably because their reflexive liberalism made it impossible to criticize a black mayor.

(7) There is one area where Graham and the Post did depart from the doctrinaire liberal line, and that was on unions.  Of course, there was nothing noble about this; she just had to break the power of her own unionized employees in order to improve her company's bottom line.

Maybe I'm just being willfully obscure--heck, that's almost certainly the case--but she appears to have been an amiable party hack who had her mediocre career handed to her on a silver platter.  I realize that's the kind of charge that Democrats normally level against the Bushes, but at least George Bush and George W. had to run for office once in awhile.  What did Katharine Graham ever do?  Her mystique eludes me.


Grade: (C-)


Book-related and General Links:
    -The Washington Post
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : "Graham, Katharine"
    -OBIT : Katharine Graham, Former Publisher of Washington Post, Dies at 84 (MARILYN BERGER, July 17, 2001, NY Times)
    -OBIT : Katharine Graham Dies at 84 (J. Y. Smith and Noel Epstein, July 18, 2001, Washington Post)
    -Katharine Graham Remembered (1917-2001) (Washington Post)
    -An American Original : Katharine Graham 1917 - 2001 (Newsweek)
    -EXCERPT : Chapter One of Personal History
    -EXCERPT : 'He Loved Me, and I Loved Him' from  Personal History
    -EXCERPT : An Unaccustomed Seat at the Table from  Personal History
    -EXCERPT : The Watergate Watershed from  Personal History
    -ESSAY : Reflections on an Art Lover (Katharine Graham, May 1993, Washington Post)
    -ESSAY : Safeguarding Our Freedoms as We Cover Terrorist Acts (Katharine Graham, April 1986, Washington Post)
    -ESSAY : On the Centennial of the Washington Post (Katharine Graham, December 1977, Washington Post)
    -GERGEN DIALOGUE : with Katharine Graham (Online Newshour, PBS)
    -INTERVIEW : with Katharine Graham (Jim Lehrer, Online Newshour, PBS)
    -INTERVIEW : with Katharine Graham (Marsha Vande Berg, Book Page)
    -INTERVIEW : with Katharine Graham (Family Haven)
    -Lifetime Online: Intimate Portrait - Katharine Graham
    -Virtual Museum of History : Hall of Women : Katharine Graham
    -In Memoriam: Katharine Graham Margaret Warner reflects upon Katharine Graham's life and impact with long-time Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus; historian Michael Beschloss; and Ann McDaniel, senior director of human resources at The Washington Post. (Online NewsHour, PBS)
    -OBIT : Katharine Graham: 1917-2001 : The woman who took over a publishing empire and led Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee through Watergate is dead at 84  (JESSICA REAVES, TIME)
    -MEMORIAL : Goodbye, Insecurity : Katharine Graham was a kind of bridge between Washington's old and new establishments (William Powers, Atlantic Monthly)
    -MEMORIAL : Katharine Graham (Art Buchwald, July 24, 2001)
    -MEMORIAL : Kay's Amazing Grace (Maureen Dowd, NY Times)
    -MEMORIAL : Way to Go, Kay (William F. Buckley Jr., National Review)
    -MEMORIAL : RIP Katharine Graham (Charles Krauthammer , July 20, 2001)
    -MEMORIAL : The legacy of Katharine Graham (Carolyn Jones, Capital Distriict Business Review)
    -MEMORIAL : Katharine Graham, giant (Jules Witcover)
    -MEMORIAL : What Katie did (Sydney Morning Herald)
    -MEMORIAL : Hostess with the most fight (Peter Preston, July 22, 2001, The Observer)
    -ESSAY : After Pulitzer, Graham's Book Still Lacks Scrutiny (Norman Solomon, April 23, 1998, FAIR), on an Art Lover (Katharine Graham,
    -ESSAY : Katharine Graham and History: Slanting the First Draft (Norman Solomon, July 19, 2001, FAIR)
    -ESSAY :  Queen Kay's Court : Judge the Post's history by its content, not its heroine. (Tim Graham, National Review)
    -ESSAY :  ENABLING POLITICAL CORRUPTION (Paul Craig Roberts, March 30, 2000)
    -ESSAY : Katharine Graham, 1917-2001 (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 18, 2001)
    -ESSAY : When conservatives attack :  A Richard Mellon Scaife-run paper savages the  late Katharine Graham in a disgraceful editorial. (Anthony York, July 19, 2001, Salon)
    -ESSAY : Publisher Scaife takes pot shots at Katharine Graham (Susan Reimer, Jul 29, 2001, Baltimore Sun)
    -INTERVIEW : the real katharine graham: an interview with deborah davis (Kenn Thomas, July 22, 2001, disinformation)
    -ESSAY : The Accidental Feminist  (Margaret Carlson, Newsweek)
    -ESSAY : The colonel and the lady (Joseph Epstein,  08/01/97, Commentary)
    -ESSAY with Links :  Katharine and Eudora (Inigo Thomas, Slate, Idea of the Day)
    -Reading Group Guide | PERSONAL HISTORY by Katharine Graham (Random House)
    -REVIEW : of Personal History (CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of Personal History (Nora Ephron, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Personal History (RICHARD ZOGLIN, TIME)
    -REVIEW : of Personal History (Gloria Cooper, Columbia Journalism Review)
    -REVIEW : of Personal History (HOWARD GLECKMAN, Business Week)
    -REVIEW : of Personal History (Micheline Maynard, THE BOOK REPORT)
    -REVIEW : of Personal History (Delphine Peck , Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association)

    -OBIT :  Philip Graham, 48, Publisher, a Suicide (August 4, 1963, NY Times)
    -Washington Post & Newsweek (FAIR Resources)
    -SYMPOSIUM : The Pentagon Papers (Vietnam Veterans of America)
    -ESSAY : Cartoons Without Humor : The underwhelming oeuvre of Herblock, America's worst political cartoonist (Michael Long, November 13, 2000, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Race Matters at The Washington Post : Can you imagine the uproar if one of the nation's largest newspapers issued invitations to a cultural gathering designed to enhance "white history," "white heritage" and "white pride"? (Michelle Malkin, September 8, 2000, Capitalism)
    -ESSAY : The Washington Post: The establishment's paper (Doug Henwood , FAIR)
    -REVIEW : of MUCKRAKING OR MONEY MAKING The Press, Inside America's Most Powerful Empires--From the Newsrooms to the Boardrooms by Ellis Cose (William Jackson)
    -REVIEW : of Washington by Meg Greenfield (Jon Jewett III, Policy Review)
    -REVIEW : of Washington by Meg Greenfield : Beltway-Bashing Books (Jacob Weisberg, Slate)