Katherine Graham: Doyenne of Publishing

Katherine Graham: Doyenne of Publishing

by Daniel Alef

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Overview

Biographical profile of Katharine Graham, who once described herself as a doormat wife, but subsequently became one of the most powerful figures in America during the 20th Century. The New York Times called her a "publishing legend." William Buckley, the conservative columnist, said she was a "mythogenic figure" and "a natural star." Television host Larry King described her as a woman who "made editorial decisions that changed American history." Graham's metamorphosis from a doormat to a phenom, a life she called a "fairy tale," is a great story for anyone seeking inspiration. Award-winning author and syndicated columnist Daniel Alef, who has written more than 300 biographical profiles of America's great titans, tells the story of Graham's remarkable and moving life. (1.343 words)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608041442
Publisher: Titans of Fortune Publishing
Publication date: 01/21/2009
Series: Titans of Fortune
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 237 KB

About the Author

Daniel Alef has written many articles, one law book, one historical anthology, Centennial Stories, and authored the award-winning historical novel, Pale Truth (MaxIt Publishing, 2000). Foreword Magazine named Pale Truth book of the year for general fiction in 2001 and the novel received many outstanding reviews including ones from Publishers Weekly and the American Library Association's Booklist. A sequel to Pale Truth, currently entitled Measured Swords, has just been completed. Titans of Fortune, biographical profiles of America's great moguls, men and women who had a profound impact on America and the World, began in April 2003. He is also a contributor to the recently released reference work: Gender and Women's Leadership pubished by Sage Publishing. Mr. Alef's experience as a lawyer, CEO of a public company, a rancher, and author, combined with his academic background-UCLA (B.S.), UCLA Law School (J.D.), the London School of Economics and Political Science (LL.M.), and Cambridge University (post-graduate studies)-gave him the perception to analyze the powerful titans and their achievements, and to place their lives and triumphs in a larger perspective. The Titans of Fortune series of articles appeared in several newspapers including the Lee Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, and became a weekly column in the Santa Barbara News Press. Mr. Alef also had a one-hour weekly radio show based on the Titans of Fortune column. He has appeared as a guest speaker and lecturer at various university, Rotary, and Kiwanis clubs, public libraries including San Francisco and Chicago, cruise ships, and at numerous historical societies across the nation. Mr. Alef serves on the Board of Trustees of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum and on the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Activities League. He is a black belt in judo and one of the head instructors of the University of California at Santa Barbara Judo Club. He currently lives with his family in Santa Barbara.

Read an Excerpt

Katharine Graham, who once described herself as a doormat wife, became one of the most powerful figures, man or woman, in America. The New York Times called her a "publishing legend." William Buckley, the conservative columnist, said she was a "mythogenic figure," and "a natural star." Television host Larry King described her as a "media powerhouse," a woman who "made editorial decisions that changed American history." Katharine's metamorphosis from a doormat to a phenom, a life she called a "fairy tale," is a great story for anyone seeking inspiration. As a roll model, however, she sets a very high bar.
Katharine Meyer was born in New York City on June 16, 1917, with a silver spoon in her mouth, but with little parental warmth. Her mother, an activist in the Republican Party and journalist, was more involved with the arts and her social standing than with her children, rubbing shoulders with Albert Einstein, Madam Curie and August Rodin. Katharine's father, Eugene, was a busy Wall Street financier who made his fortune in gold, copper, automobiles and chemical industries. He served as governor of the Federal Reserve Bank and helped President Hoover start the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to make loans to troubled banks. He served briefly with the Fed under Franklin D. Roosevelt, but resigned because he did not like Roosevelt's monetary policies.
Although Eugene was Jewish, and Katharine's mother Luthern, they attended the St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington where they had their own pew.
It was a life of luxury in various homes, including a castle-like mansion at Mount Kisco, surrounded by nannies, governesses and tutors. Katharine attended the Madeira School for Girls in Virginia and spent two years at Vassar before graduating from the University of Chicago in 1938, an event most notable for her parents' absence.
In 1933, while Katharine was at Madeira, her father bid $850,000 at a public auction for the bankrupt Washington Post, a paper with a circulation of only 50,000-the fifth of five Washington papers. When she learned about the new family enterprise, Katharine decided to go into journalism. After graduation she went to San Francisco with her father, fell in love with the city and, with her father's help, got a job with the San Francisco News. In 1939 her father offered her a job at the Post with one injunction to the editor: "If it doesn't work, well, get rid of her." Katharine held the lowest position in editorial, handling letters to the editor and writing a few meaningless editorials.
That year Katharine met Philip Graham, a brilliant but shy and insecure lawyer, a Harvard Law School graduate who had clerked for two Supreme Court justices. She was stunned when he asked for her hand in marriage, but only if she agreed to two conditions: move to Florida and never take anything from her father; and that they would live on what Philip would make. Katharine's parents approved even though they were staunch Republicans and Philip was a New Deal liberal. Philip and Katharine were married June 4, 1940.
Strangely, it was Philip who first broke his own stipulations by accepting the position of associate publisher at the Post, and assuming the publisher's office in 1946 when President Truman offered Eugene the presidency of the World Bank. In yet another example of Eugene's fondness for his daughter, he sold the Grahams stock in the Post, more to Philip than to Katharine. "No man should be in the position of working for his wife," he told Katharine.
Although Philip was already in debt to Eugene, he continued to purchase more stock, and put his entire effort into building the Post into a major newspaper. He was also politically active with Lyndon Johnson and the desegregation movement, using the Post to influence the news. Katharine adored Philip, the man she called the "fizz" of her life; Philip returned the compliments by emotionally abusing Katharine

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