Exhaustively researched and elegantly written, The Uncrowned King brims with charming characters and stories. It deftly captures the bygone era of Gilded Age newspapering, when rival millionaire publishers launched epic crusades and talent raids, built skyscrapers and yachts as monuments to their success and staged stunts and promotions to captivate a city teeming with aristocrats and immigrants. In making this valuable contribution to the literature of Hearst and the history of journalism, Whyte reminds us how much fun newspapers used to be, how central a role they once occupieddozens of them, churning out as many as 40 editions a dayin the American metropolis.
The Washington Post
This is not a new portrait. In The Chief, his masterly biography of Hearst's whole life, published in 2000, David Nasaw drew similar conclusions that challenged the historical Hearst mythology. Whyte nevertheless presents another, arresting portraitof the emerging power of the press at the end of the 19th century.
The New York Times
The conventional understanding of newspaper magnate Hearst as haunted megalomaniac, cynical purveyor of prurience and jingoistic instigator of the Spanish-American War gets a major challenge in this scintillating biographical study. Maclean's editor Whyte covers the years from 1895 to 1898, when Hearst took a revamped New York Journal to the top of the newspaper market by way of a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer's rival New York World. Whyte styles Hearst a brilliant and creative media entrepreneur with a gift for managing high-strung (and often drunken) subordinates, progressive politics and a sincere social conscience that animated his paper's crusading journalism. Even Hearst's agitation for war with Spain, Whyte contends, was more justifiable and journalistically responsible than is thought-and may have helped forestall a "genocide" in Cuba. Whyte considers the "yellow journalism" slur often hurled at Hearst a compliment; he finds the Journal to be "a demanding, sophisticated read" that used emotion and drama to draw readers into reporting of real significance. No slouch himself when it comes to colorful profiles and engrossing narrative, Whyte makes Hearst's rise an entertaining saga of newspapering's heroic age, when the popular press became an unofficial pillar of democracy. Photos. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Literate biography of the real-life Citizen Kane. William Randolph Hearst parlayed a fortunate early life-his father was a U.S. senator, his mother a famed socialite-into a fortune, though his vehicle was an unusual one in a time of robber barons, railroad and shipping magnates and great bankers. As Maclean's publisher and editor-in-chief Whyte shows, Hearst, shut out of his father's will, bought a struggling New York daily newspaper, the Morning Journal, and turned it into a muckraking tabloid, sometime force for social good and advertising moneymaker that pushed him to prominence. Hearst was a hands-on publisher whose journalistic method might be called Social Darwinist. While running a San Francisco newspaper at the start of his career, he called, for instance, for "men who come out west in the hopeful buoyancy of youth for the purpose of making their fortunes and not a worthless scum that has been carried there by the eddies of repeated failures." For all the flaws Orson Welles would rightly ascribe to him, Hearst was a model publisher, as Whyte clearly appreciates. At all his newspapers, he was closely involved with not only the daily content but also with design, advertising, circulation, staffing and every other aspect of its operations. He also insisted on hiring the best writers he could find, and he let them write. Somewhere along the way, when the riches poured in and the political power accrued, Hearst determined to bring his white-man's-burden message home, gaining renown-notoriety, many would say-for turning his budding newspaper empire to the cause of overthrowing the last of the Spanish Empire, eagerly advocating the armed interventions that would become known as theSpanish-American War. Whyte capably charts Hearst's trajectory to the early 1900s, so there's plenty left for a sequel. Meanwhile, this volume is a solid entry in the history of journalism, and of the American Empire.
“To the extent that the dead can sit up and take notice, W.R. Hearst is taking notice of Mr. Whyte’s tremendous, fresh, lively, rubble-clearing biography. The word his lips are forming is: ‘Finally!’” Forbes
"Elegantly written, The Uncrowned King brims with charming characters and stories. It deftly captures the bygone era of Gilded Age newspapering . . . Whyte reminds us how much fun newspapers used to be." The Washington Post
"[An] arresting portrait." The New York Times
“A scintillating biographical study. No slouch himself when it comes to colorful profiles and engrossing narrative, Whyte makes Hearst’s rise an entertaining saga of newspapering’s heroic age, when the popular press became an unofficial pillar of democracy.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Hearst’s journalism had enterprise, brashness, purpose and humanity. These qualities were real, and, Whyte suggests, today’s newspapers should have more of them.” The Seattle Times