Personal History

Personal History

by Katharine Graham

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

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 thehead 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375701047
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/1998
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 688
Sales rank: 83,181
Product dimensions: 5.15(w) x 7.98(h) x 1.37(d)

About the Author

Katharine Graham is fondly remembered as the powerful, longtime publisher of the Washington Post. She died in 2001.

Read an Excerpt

When my parents returned from their honeymoon and settled back into New York, my mother was pregnant. My father went back to Wall Street, and she had to begin making the necessary adjustments to being a married woman. Overnight she found herself living a wealthy life and running households. She once told me of thinking, as she rode in a chauffeurdriven car, "Can this really be me?" As she herself acknowledged, she had a difficult time, especially in the first years, long before I was born, the fourth child of five. She had rarely thought about what marriage entailed m the way of relationships to spouse and children. I'm not sure she was ever really able to.

She seemed to regard her marriage as a contract she would always keep, and in her way she did. Her duty, as she saw it, lay in having and rearing children, running the houses, and being there when needed to fulfill her obligations as a hostess. After that, like so many of today's women but way ahead of her time, she was determined to maintain her own identity and intellectual life. In her own world, she went her own way. Later, in a memoir, she explained how she felt at the time:

I ... rebelled inwardly and outwardly against the suddenly imposed responsibilities of marriage. During the first few
years . . . I behaved as if the whole world were in a conspiracy to flatten out my personality and cast me into a universal
mold called "woman." So many of my married college friends had renounced their intellectual interests and lost
themselves in a routine of diapers, dmners, and smug contentment with life, that I was determined this should not
happen to me. I wanted a big family but I also wanted tocontinue my life as an individual.

I believe she was often desperately unhappy in her marriage, especially at first. She went to a psychiatrist, on whom she leaned heavily. She tried to escape any problems with her marriage and motherhood by studying Chinese art and language and by maintaining her connections to "291" and developing an interest in collecting modern art. She had already met a man who was to be one of the great influences in her life, the industrialist and pioneer collector Charles Lang Freer. They met at an exhibit of Chinese art, and he, having heard of her interest, invited her to Detroit to see his collection. She responded, "Next week I am going to have a baby, but I'll come as soon after that as I can." My father went along as chaperone and he, too, became a friend of Freer's.

From January 1913 until his death, my mother studied under and collected with Freer. Often they would divide up the shipments from his personal representatives in China. She had already studied the Chinese language at Columbia from 1911 to 1913, and for the next five years, with the aid of a Chinese scholar whom she often had in residence at Mount Kisco, she amassed research materials for an analysis of the contributions of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism to the development of the T'ang and Sung dynasties. This resulted in the publication, in 1923, of her book Chinese Painting as Reflected in the Thought and Art of Li Lung-Mien. Unfortunately, Freer, to whom it was dedicated, had died in 1919. She visited him constantly throughout his long, agonizing illness. At his death, Freer designated five trustees for his gallery in Washington, of whom my parents were two.

As another outlet for her mind, she enrolled in postgraduate study in biology, economics, and history at Columbia University, where she met and became involved with the historians Charles and Mary Beard. When the Beards, John Dewey, and others founded the free and liberal New School for Social Research, she helped modestly to fund it and also helped in psychology classes when it opened in 1919.

At the same time, she grew even more involved with "291" and with Steichen in promoting modern art, especially that of John Marin, who sent over his watercolors from Paris. She was instrumental in founding the periodical named for the gallery, "291," and became an editor of this first avant-garde journal in America. My mother was already caught up in these activities by the time the first baby, my oldest sister, Florence, was born. She later told stories of deciding to nurse the baby but forgetting to come home from her "extramural activities" and racing home to find a screaming baby being pacified by poor Powelly.

During these first years of my mother's struggles with marriage, my father had some business setbacks. He had entered the budding automobile business in a big way, investing heavily in a company called the United States Motor Company, which produced the Maxwell. This company had run into trouble, and my father had helped reorganize it into the Maxwell Motor Company, which was still in trouble. His heavy investments in copper had not begun to pay off, and, for the first time, he felt financially squeezed. My parents had moved into a large, elegant house at 70th Street and Park Avenue. In an effort to retrench, they sold the house and moved into an entire floor at the St. Regis Hotel -- not exactly poverty row, but enough to set off rumors that Wall Street's boy wonder had gotten into trouble.

He eventually emerged from the tumultuous experience with Maxwell with a substantial profit and went on believing in the automobile business. A little later he made a brilliantly successful investment in the Fisher Body Company, run by seven able brothers. When Fisher sold to General Motors, however, he chose cash rather than stock, passing up the chance to become one of G.M.'s largest stockholders.

Around the same time, my father made another -- less important -- mistake. With his friend Bernard Baruch he invested in a gold mine, Alaska Juneau. The value of the mine went up and down, but at some point water, not gold, was found in it. For some reason, my father had invested in the mine for all of us children and told us about it. The price of Alaska Juneau was the subject of dinner-table merriment for many years, along with discussion of whether each child had profited or not. Eventually, it dropped farther and farther and finally disappeared altogether. Phil and I later named our golden retriever Juneau in honor of the mine -- a much better investment.

My father's investments in copper, cars, and, later, chemicals were all indicative of his desire not only to make money but to participate in creating new frontiers. He very much admired E.H. Harriman for creating a railroad when railroads were new. That was the kind of thing he aspired to do, being in on the birth of an industry. He once asked James Russell Wiggins, when Russ was editor of the Post, what he would do if he could do exactly what he wanted. Russ replied that he supposed he'd write history, to which my father responded, "I wouldn't. I'd sooner make it."

In addition to his business problems, the first years following his marriage brought a number of personal troubles and tragedies. The worst was the loss of the youngest Meyer, Edgar, his partner and much-loved sibling, who went down on the Titanic after putting his wife and baby daughter in the last lifeboat. He was only twenty-eight. My father had been his much older brother -- almost a father figure, and certainly a mentor -- and he was painfully bereft. He was not close to many people; Edgar had been one of the very few.

He had my mother, of course, who always stood behind him staunchly when he needed it, but who seemed increasingly to resent running the big houses, who disliked social obligations, and who was shocked and discouraged by the pains of childbirth. She asked her obstetrician during Florence's birth why anyone had a second baby. As she herself wrote, "I became a conscientious but scarcely a loving mother."

By 1914, she had had my second sister, Elizabeth -- or Bis, as she was always known -- and was chafing so over what she felt as the "crushing" of her personality that my father encouraged her to go abroad. They initially thought of going together, but the gathering war clouds concerned him and he decided to stay home to look after his, by now, very large business. In addition, given her frustrations in acclimating to marriage and a family, they both saw the need for some distance between them, so they agreed that she would take the trip to Europe alone and they would correspond often. Indeed, all her life my mother found it easier to communicate from a distance, and she conversed with us children at least as much through letters as she did in person. I took this form of communication for granted.

For some reason, when she was in her old age and during my middle years, she suddenly gave me the letters that she and my father had exchanged while she was abroad in 1914. I'm not sure why. The strains between them were ill-concealed in these letters, which freely expressed their differences, his fairly unreasonable anger and jealousy, and her conflicting emotions.

Her first letters to him were written in May 1914, while she was still on the German steamship the Vaterland, headed for Bremen. Her very first letter asked why he had left the boat so long before it sailed. She was quite crushed, and ended the letter with "Kiss my babies. I have left my heart with you and them." She seems to have quickly got over any sadness at leaving them, however, since the next letter was full of details about her active social life on board -- she had been taken up by the very distinguished Mrs. Stotesbury of Philadelphia. She alternated these social details with more intimate comments. At one point she asks,

Are you thinking of me lovingly in spite of the fact that I have temporarily deserted you? This is a revolutionary age
even for the marital relationship and I hope that you will not cease having confidence in me and loving me when I have
a period of thinking things out. It only means that my feelings for you will be clearer and therefore finer.

Much of the European trip was a reconstruction of the artistic life she had created as a student there. She looked at and bought books and art in Berlin, Vienna, and Paris. She went with de Zayas to see what she called the "ultra-moderns." She "expected to be horrified" -- particularly by Picasso's work, since she had heard he used "pieces of wallpaper, newspaper and other actual things with which to construct his pictures" -- but she found his work "large as life and fascinating" and bought a small still life of "a pipe, a glass, a bottle and some grapes," the grapes having been set in sawdust. She called it a "real work of art," and paid $140 for it.

Fairly early on, she committed an almost fatal error from the point of view of her relationship with my father. She went for tea to the apartment of an old friend, Alfred von Heymel, whom she had met in Berlin through her onetime beau Otto Merkel the summer of her student year.

Instead of making things better, as she thought her writing from this distance would, her letter about this unchaperoned visit prompted a wonderfully old-fashioned row. She had told my father quite casually about going to von Heymel's apartment alone, but added that he should not be shocked, since the place was "full of domestics." There followed from my father -- all carefully preserved -- two letters of uncontrolled and repetitive rage at her having "gone alone to a man's apartment."

She cabled and wrote back that there was a misunderstanding and tried to give her side of the incident, but it was no use. The details didn't matter to him; what did matter was that he had to have confidence in her. He enumerated other occasions when he felt she hadn't used good sense. He felt that the liberty he wanted her always to feel was hers was being abused, and that if she really cared she would understand the serious consequences of her thoughtlessness. Incredibly, after saying all this, he said he hoped "nothing in this sounds like lecturing and preaching," signing the letter "with fondest love."

Despite the misunderstandings on both sides about this ill-fated von Heymel visit, she carried on with her trip and her letters. She wrote my father that she recognized that her whole existence had been devoted to life, whereas his had been devoted to work. She also said she hadn't been giving to him, which she concluded was not entirely her fault: "We have often scarcely seen each other. We have lived in the market place instead of building up a shrine of our own." She thought even their town house reflected this distance between them: "We have no room where one feels you and I actually live." She admitted to him that in the last year she had been terribly restless and dissatisfied and could feel his uneasiness: "I do not blame you. Only a blind man could have failed to be uneasy about the woman who left you but I do not think you will be uneasy about the woman who returns."

Indeed, in the letters she wrote during this interlude she tried to be supportive of him and analytical about herself, but to little avail. He wrote a final letter complaining that she hadn't written as often as she had promised, that she was always in a hurry, and that she would be coming home tired instead of rested. This letter ended with:

You say "Be happy and know that I shall work for you always in any and every way." This is a smart expression and I
am sure you would do so -- if you happened to think of it. Thinking after all is what counts.

Her last full week of what turned out to be more than two months in Europe she spent with the Steichens in their simple house in Voulangis, where he was growing and breeding delphiniums, a lifelong passion. With little to do, she wrote my father that she had grown "uneasy about you, the kids, the cook, the strawberries that weren't being preserved...."

She sailed for home on a Dutch steamer on July 31, as promised, and luckily, too, since it was one of the last boats to leave Europe before World War I erupted two weeks later. Steichen's house was near to what became the front as the Germans threatened to break through at the first Battle of the Marne. Ignorant of his extreme danger, Steichen cabled my father asking what he ought to do. "Suggest immediate orderly retreat," was my father's firm reply. The Steichens were just able to leave for America and took refuge at Mount Kisco with my parents.

On her way home, my mother had a nightmare in which she saw herself as her father, irresponsible and self-absorbed to the extent of ruining his family's life and hers. She made up her mind not to be like that. And, in fact, the time away, despite the stormy exchanges, seems to have helped. She returned with a new commitment to this difficult relationship, determined to make it work. In a letter she had mentioned resting up before enduring more of "the baby business." I suppose her assumption was that she would have one every two years -- and, indeed, she had my brother Bill a year later. And two years after that, on June 16, 1917, I was born.

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and suggestions for further reading that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Katharine Graham's Personal History. We hope that they will aid your discussion of this autobiography by one of America's most remarkable and accomplished women. Graham recounts her sheltered girlhood as the daughter of a self-made millionaire and his formidable, egotistical wife; her education at Vassar at the University of Chicago; her early work at a San Francisco newspaper; and her marriage to the brilliant and politically ambitious Philip Graham, at the time a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. After her husband's suicide, which followed his harrowing descent into manic-depressive illness, Katharine Graham stepped abruptly out of her supporting role as wife and mother to take over as publisher of The Washington Post.

1. Graham spent her childhood and adolescence in a household that revolved around the needs of the parents rather than those of the children. It wasn't until she was two and a half that she was first mentioned, in passing, in her mother's diary--"The babes (Bill and K) take some of my time this week" [p. 27]--and when her parents moved from New York to Washington, the children remained behind with a nursemaid and governess for the first four years. What long-term effects, if any, did this parental neglect have upon Graham's life?

2. Of her father's passing the Post to his son-in-law rather than to his daughter, Graham notes, "Far from troubling me personally that my father thought of my husband and not me, it pleased me" [p. 149]. Why did Graham and many other women of her generation have this point of view? At the time, her father explained that "no man should be in the position of working for his wife" [p. 181]; how would the marriage have been affected if Katharine Graham had been chosen to run the Post?

3. Eugene Meyer believed that social responsibility accompanied the privileges of wealth. Does the sense of public duty that Eugene Meyer passed on to his daughter strike you as unusual? He also believed that a newspaper's first duty was to serve the public interest, not the political ends of its owner. How closely did Philip Graham, and later his wife, adhere to these precepts while at the helm of the Post?

4. Hardly a conventional woman in her own day, Agnes Meyer was ambitious, politically involved, intellectually driven, and not at all "nurturing" of her children. In what ways did her mother shape the person Katharine Graham was to become?

5. What does Graham's description of the heated political argument that delayed her wedding ceremony indicate about the role of politics in her married life? What impression do you gain from the narrative of Philip Graham's political agenda and his influence upon Presidents Johnson and Kennedy? What impresses you about how Katharine Graham handled herself in friendships and business dealings with men in power? Do you think that Katharine Graham would have made a good political figure herself?

6. Graham writes of her relationship with her husband, "I literally believed that he had created me, that I was totally dependent on him, and I didn't see the downside at all" [p. 309]. Was this a happy marriage up until the time when Philip Graham's illness became obvious? Or do you agree with her friend's assessment that it was "good" for her that he left [p. 309]?. Was her continued loyalty to him, even after he left her for another woman, misplaced? How would you characterize Graham's account of their separation and her portrayal of her husband's mistress?

7. Three major crises punctuate Graham's account of her years at The Washington Post: the decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, the handling of the revelations of the Watergate affair, and her dealings with the pressmen's strike. How do these three events show the quality of her leadership? Her ability to react under extreme pressure? Is there anything in her handling of these situations that you disagree with? In the pressmens' strike, she was blamed for the suicide of one of the workers. Is there any justification for this?

8. The reader will not learn much from Katharine Graham about what it's like to live with millions of dollars at one's personal disposal. What role does Graham's inherited--and later earned--wealth play in this narrative?

9. Does the couple's attempt to conceal Philip Graham's breakdown strike you as indicative of a social stigma attending mental illness that our society has since outgrown? Was the self-imposed isolation that Katharine Graham endured at the time, as his sole confidante and support during the course of his illness, worthwhile? When she writes of herself and her children as "enablers" [p. 331] of her husband's actions, what does she mean?

10. In any memoir, the writer is faced with looking back at the past and at actions that seem, from the present venue, regrettable. What is the role of self-criticism in this memoir? Do you agree with Graham's belief that to have gone on a cruise after her husband's suicide was the wrong thing to do, since it meant that her two youngest sons had to deal with the aftermath of their father's death on their own? What other aspects of her life would she change, do you suppose, if she had the chance?

11. Are you surprised at how much social contact there was between the Grahams and such figures as Presidents Johnson and Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, and George Shultz, etc.? Is your view of these well-known figures changed at all by seeing them through Graham's eyes?
How well do you think that she dealt with the wrath of Richard Nixon? How do the revelations in this book change your preconceptions about the relationship between media and politics in this country?

12. Philip Graham's suicide is clearly a turning point in his wife's story. Is she, in a sense, a different person once she goes to work at the Post? The episode of his mental illness and its aftermath encapsulates many of the recurrent themes in the work, especially the competing obligations Graham felt as a private woman versus a public one. How well does she deal with the exposure that comes with being in such an elevated position? How well does she balance the needs of home and of work? Is this a story of a person who was to find her real fulfillment as a working woman, but who never would have discovered that if she had remained at home?

13. Although Katharine Graham did not at first identify with the aims of the feminist movement, throughout her career she found herself confronting a good deal of gender-based discrimination and prejudice. For instance, she was characterized as being a "'house mother and cheerleader'" for the company [p. 432]. What were the particular challenges facing her that a man in her position would not have had to confront? Would you consider Graham a feminist?

14. Graham identifies her husband as the energetic partner in the marriage, the one who was fun to be around, while she herself was "the foundation, the stability" [p. 250]. Is this situation--the mother feels herself to be "boring" and relegated to the background, but nevertheless is relied upon to manage the family's life--still typical of many families? Has the women's movement significantly affected gender roles in most marriages?

15. Many celebrity books in this country are ghostwritten, and clearly Katharine Graham did not have to take on the enormous labor of writing such a lengthy book herself. Why do you suppose she chose to do so? What does she achieve by having done so? What stylistic and tonal qualities of her writing contribute to your sense of Katharine Graham's presence, personality, and character?

16. "I suppose that, without quite realizing it, I was taking a veil" [p. 339]. How do you interpret this description of what it meant to Graham to take on her husband's job after his suicide? Elsewhere, she writes of being married to her job. Do you think that she would have accomplished what she did had she married again?

17. Katharine Graham found a truly productive partnership with Ben Bradlee; in many ways he seems to have been an integral part of her success at the paper. Why do you suppose they worked so well together? To what degree is success dependent upon working with the right people, or learning how to deal with less sympathetic people? To what degree is successful management determined by finding the right balance of personalities in a working environment?

18. In any autobiography some episodes are emphasized while others are muted. What parts of Graham's life are underplayed in this memoir? Do you sometimes find yourself wanting to know more about certain aspects of her life? What might explain or justify these omissions?

19. While the tradition of autobiograpy by men in public life is well established, that of women is far less so. If you have read recent examples--those of Colin Powell and Robert McNamara, for instance--how does Graham's narrative follow the pattern established by male writers? What does it owe to the emerging tradition of writing about female experience? What are the differences, if any, between the two?

20. Though they are nonfiction, autobiographies can be compared to novels that follow a character's education, development, life story--novels like Jane Austen's Emma, George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, or Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. How does Graham's narrative compare to these or similar novels you've read? How would you characterize the movements of its "plot"? What is the effect upon you as a reader of the story as a whole?

21. Graham often mentions the fact that she lacked confidence, even after having reached a level of achievement that few people--men or women--ever do. Does she come across in her writing as a woman lacking in confidence? Is this, at bottom, a problem shared by most individuals, no matter how successful and no matter their sex? If not, how is Katharine Graham's lack of confidence specific to her sex and her generation?

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Personal History 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had been meaning to read this for awhile, and never found the time - glad I finally did. One of the first women to hold a true position of power; and one of the most influential and captivating women in contemporary America Graham tells of making it inspite of and despite considerable odds- including the fact that she was born to wealth, married to a genius suffering from manic- depression, and then publisher/owner of the Washington Post. She was a legendary figure that shows herself as being human all too human, writing of her mistakes, of overcoming, enjoying and learning from obstacles and privileges. The book offers slices of American history from the inside, not only Watergate but also major characters such as Warren Buffet. It chronicles both her personal and then professional life at the Washington Post- recounting history (hers, the Wposts' and the nations') from her point of view. It tells of the need to keep on moving forward, even when in doubt of the path to take, of making a tough call and sticking to it- perserverance with elegance. Not only a fascinating history of the Washington Post from the inside but also an incredible odessey of personal growth and empowerment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good look at a tough business. Amazing detail. She knows how to tell a story.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though I categorized this as an autobiography it is not a traditional "my life" story. Instead, it is Katharine Graham's personal history with The Washington Post first and foremost. She begins with a brief overview of how her parents met, when and where she was born, and her college years. This sets the stage for her increased involvement with the paper. From the time she was 16 years old, when her father bought the failing Washington Post at auction, until the end of her role as chairman of the board in 1991, 58 years of Graham's life was immersed in making the paper a success. Raised without a strong mother-figure or adolescent role models Katharine Graham was a trendsetter for women in business. For her era, her rise to power was nothing short of remarkable. But, in addition what makes Personal History such a fascinating read is Graham's unflinching view of her world. She does not hide the fact she had a strained and difficult relationship with her absentee mother. Her voice drips with contempt when she recounts her mother's failed attempts at guidance in life. Graham addresses her husband's mental illness and subsequent suicide in a matter of fact manner. She does not sugar coat the difficulties she faced being a woman of influence in a world traditionally reserved for the man of the house. Despite being born into privilege Graham exemplified the meaning of hard work and perseverance.
NewsieQ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The BEST biography I've read -- ever. Easy to forget it is an AUTObiography and not written by an impartial observer. I read biographies of Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley about the same time I read this one and they were absolutely lightweight compared to hers. An amazing book by an amazing woman -- easy to see why it won a Pulitzer Prize.
sallysvenson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fabulous autobiography by a woman who was forced into and mastered a role that she had no interest in and thought beyond her. Wise, honest, and ego-free.
phyllis01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This may be the best autobiography I've ever read. Graham was charming, brilliant, tough as hell, and a lady all the way through. Her description of the legal wrangling regarding publishing the Pentagon Papers is as hold your breath tense as any thriller.
Clueless on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very informative but could have used some serious editing. There was a lot of name dropping that would mean absolutely nothing to someone out of the USA. Still an interesting story. Empowering for women.
Marliesd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While my mind is on Washington, D.C., another good read. I listened to this one a few years back.
swinebass on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Never have a I read a more honest, genuflective and intriguing autobiography. Graham is as open and frank about her life, especially her early years and her marriage to her bipolar disorder-suffering and eventually suicidal husband, as she could possibly be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this insider look at Washington through the eyes of this amazing woman. I particularly enjoyed the sections on the Pentagon papers and Watergate. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Normally not one for autobiographies, I truly enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm still enjoying the read. Great review with history.
Gamma46 More than 1 year ago
I really did not know much about Katharine Graham until reading her personal history. Quite an amazing story. She writes with such honesty about herself it was sometimes heart wrenching. Well written and most interesting.
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Granuaile More than 1 year ago
And the history wasn't so personal. Too much detail about other people. It might have well as been Her husband's biography.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Katharine Graham not only tells a complete story of her life but also of the Washington that she lived in.She doesnt shy away from any of her struggles or painful moments.I liked the way she shared her life from the time she was a child, to her marriage, to old age. This creates a good read but it can get a little lengthy. Other than that it is a powerful read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a female journalist in a male-dominated industry, I was captivated by Katherine Graham's "Personal History." Graham was at the helm of one of the nation's largest newspapers at a time when very few women held positions of power. Everyone, regardless of their gender, can learn much from the way she handled herself in various situations, both professionally and personally. The historical insight and personal details added so much to the book. This is one of my all time favorites!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This autobiography was published just before Ms. Graham died. I would have liked to listen to the recently released Watergate tapes with her in her private quarters. I know her laughter would have shook the building.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just recently finished Personal History and the only real thing that I learned was how many people this woman actually knew in her life. I didn't feel that we really got to know Katharine. It seemed that all she wanted to include in her book is how each of the thousands of people that she mentioned amazingly touched her life. This is my first serious biography that I have ever read, so that may be the way they all are. But this will probably be my last. I agree she led an exciting life, but if I had grown up with that much money, I might have been able to do all of those things too. I wanted to know the real stories, like why she felt the way she did about her husband, what was her real relationship with her children. I just wasn't moved by this story or her life in any way except to say this is not a book worth reading.