Description

384 pages 9.3 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches Illustrated black cloth spine lettered in gilt over beige boards pictorial dust jacket (fine) Newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst has fascinated multiple previous writers of biography. He was influential, charismatic and lived opulently. Procter, a Texas Christian Univ. history professor, caught the Hearst biography bug in 1966, 15 years after the tycoon's death. By then, a big-selling Hearst biography, by W. A. Swanberg, seemed to have the topic locked up. But Procter knew that new information awaited in Hearst papers flowing into the University of California library. The project gestated in Procter's mind until 1981, when he began research in earnest. By then, other Hearst biographies had been published. Would Procter find anything new to say? Seventeen years later, the answer is clear: Yes. Previous biographies have given short shrift to Hearst's stormy academic career, his unexpected entry into the newspaper business and the thought behind his new style of tabloid journalism. Procter, a skillful researcher, has written a work of historiography embedded in the biography. Over and over, he points out the factual and interpretive mistakes of previous Hearst biographers, including the legendary Swanberg. Procter says he is planning a second volume, presumably covering the final 40 years of Hearst's life, years filled with movie star liaisons, life in the castle at San Simeon and the development of a true media empire. Judging by this detail-packed, competently written volume, the follow-up ought to be worth waiting for. Drawing on new archival material released by the Hearst family, as well as previous biographies, Procter has concentrated on William Randolph Hearst's early career as a molder of public opinion and spokesman for progressive causes. Though Hearst newspapers pioneered marketing techniques that vastly increased subscription and advertisements, it is for yellow journalism (or new journalism, as Hearst preferred to call it) and his role in fanning the flames of the Spanish-American War that Hearst is best remembered. Procter carefully examines that role, not merely in terms of Hearst's newspaper rivalry with Joseph Pulitzer but also in light of Hearst's expanding political consciousness, and that of the American people as a whole. The most fascinating sections deal with Hearst's various political campaigns in the first decade of this century: he ran for the Democratic nomination for president, mayor of New York City, and governor and lieutenant governor of New York. For Hearst, these campaigns were really a slow, expensive march toward disillusionment with politics and progressivism, as he was rebuffed each time by the people to whom he pandered Edges slightly spotted

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