William Randolph Hearst: The Later Years, 1911-1951

William Randolph Hearst: The Later Years, 1911-1951

by Ben Procter
     
 

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William Randolph Hearst was a figure of Shakespearean proportions, a man of huge ambition, inflexible will, and inexhaustible energy. He revolutionized the newspaper industry in America, becoming the most powerful media mogul the world had ever seen, and in the process earned himself the title of "most hated man in America" on four different occasions. Now in the… See more details below

Overview

William Randolph Hearst was a figure of Shakespearean proportions, a man of huge ambition, inflexible will, and inexhaustible energy. He revolutionized the newspaper industry in America, becoming the most powerful media mogul the world had ever seen, and in the process earned himself the title of "most hated man in America" on four different occasions. Now in the second volume of this sweeping biography, Ben Procter gives readers a vivid portrait of the final 40 years of Hearst's life. Drawing on previously unavailable letters and manuscripts, and quoting generously from Hearst's own editorials, Procter covers all aspects of Hearst's career: his journalistic innovations, his impassioned patriotism, his fierce belief in "Government by Newspaper," his frustrated political aspirations, profligate spending and voracious art collecting, the building of his castle at San Simeon, and his tumultuous Hollywood years. The book offers new insight into Hearst's bitter and highly public quarrels with Al Smith (who referred to Hearst papers as "Mudgutter Gazettes") and FDR (whose New Deal Hearst dubbed the "Raw Deal"); his 30-year affair with the actress Marion Davies (and her own affairs with others); his political evolution from a progressive trust-buster and "America first" isolationist to an increasingly conservative and at times hysterical anti-communist. Procter also explores Hearst's ill-considered meeting with Hitler, his attempts to suppress "Citizen Kane," and his relationships with Joseph Kennedy, Charles Lindbergh, Louis B. Meyer, and many other major figures of his time. As Life magazine noted, Hearst newspapers were a "one-man fireworks display"--sensational, controversial, informative, and always entertaining. In Ben Procter's fascinating biography, Hearst shines forth in all his eccentric and egocentric glory.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In the second and final installment of Hearst's biography, Procter (Not Without Honor: The Life of John H. Reagan) attempts to humanize the reigning avatar of American media tycoonism. This is no easy task. Hearst's lavish and exotic tastes, his romantic juggling acts, his voracious appetite for anything that cost money and his ruthless pursuit of political office easily congeal into cartoonish self-parody. Procter, a history professor at Texas Christian University, proves that Hearst's intentions were pure—he genuinely wanted to improve the lives of all Americans. The focal point of the mogul's last 40 years is an unshakable political curse. Never internalizing the art of compromise, Hearst failed again and again to parlay his national newspaper puissance into political capital. He had a great knack for making, embellishing and fabricating the news, but no talent for anticipating it, as he continually dug his heels into the historically wrong side of all the big issues—from U.S. involvement in WWI and WWII to Roosevelt's New Deal. Revelatory research into the finer points of Hearst's protean political alliances is rich in detail, as is his infamous meeting with Hitler, but the author delivers the same summaries over and over again. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Procter (History/Texas Christian Univ.) completes his two-volume biography of the man whose ego and empire and sense of entitlement ballooned to proportions so vast that it took the Great Depression and time's stiletto to puncture them. Throughout, Procter (William Randolph Hearst: The Early Years, 1863-1901, 1998) is kind to his subject. Hearst was a genius (or nearly so), a wonderful cook, fiercely loyal to both women in his life (his wife and the actress Marion Davies), highly creative and innovative with a "seemingly inexhaustible work ethic." He loved art and amassed one of the greatest collections ever. Procter reminds us of Hearst's innovations not only in journalism but in Hollywood. He created The Perils of Pauline (and wrote scripts for the serial); he insisted on historical accuracy in sets and costumes. Hearst also had ferocious political ambitions. He served two terms in Congress but failed repeatedly to win the White House and seemed to have a genetic incapability of backing a winner in state or national elections. He believed in "America First" and urged the country to stay out of both world wars. He had an audience with Hitler in the early 1930s and came away very impressed, says Procter. The author does show Hearst's great weaknesses, principally his inability to control spending. If he wanted it (a rare work of art, an English castle, a private compound at San Simeon, whatever), he bought it. For years, he invested $50,000 per month in the construction of a San Simeon property. Frequently, he took long and luxurious trips to Europe with dozens of his closest friends. Procter does not ignore Hearst's ruthless dishonesty, his reptilian professional and personal ethics, butthe author does sometimes succumb to the subject's celebrity and toxic charm.
From the Publisher
"This biography is a good starting point for any reader wanting to know about the man Citizen Kane was modeled on—and why he mattered."—M.J. Birkner, CHOICE

"William Randolph Hearst: The Later Years, 1911-1951 provides excellent coverage of Hearst's efforts to fulfill his dream of 'government by newspaper.'"—Rodney Carlisle, The Journal of American History

"This is a superbly written examination."—Booklist

"Proctor does an excellent job of collecting the facts.... Scholars will appreciate the extensive use of primary sources."—Judy Solber, Library Journal

"It is Procter's literary agility in dealing with Hearst's complexities that makes this work sing.... In volume 1 and now in volume 2, Procter has more than lived up to the challenge of telling this man's life story."— Jhistory, H-Net Reviews

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199830794
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
03/22/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
4 MB

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