The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst

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Houghton Mifflin, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 687 pages
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David Nasaw's magnificent, definitive biography of William Randolph Hearst is based on newly released private and business papers and interviews. For the first time, documentation of Hearst's interactions with Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, and every American president from Grover Cleveland to Franklin Roosevelt, as well as with movie giants Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, and Irving Thalberg, completes the picture of this colossal American. Hearst, known to his staff as the Chief, was a man of prodigious appetites. By the 1930s, he controlled the largest publishing empire in the country, including twenty-eight newspapers, the Cosmopolitan Picture Studio, radio stations, and thirteen magazines. As the first practitioner of what is now known as synergy, Hearst used his media stronghold to achieve political power unprecedented in the industry. Americans followed his metamorphosis from populist to fierce opponent of Roosevelt and the New Deal, from citizen to congressman, and we are still fascinated today by the man characterized in the film classic CITIZEN KANE. In Nasaw's portrait, questions about Hearst's relationships are addressed, including those about his mistress in his Harvard days, who lived with him for ten years; his legal wife, Millicent, a former showgirl and the mother of his five sons; and Marion Davies, his companion until death. Recently discovered correspondence with the architect of Hearst's world-famous estate, San Simeon, is augmented by taped interviews with the people who worked there and witnessed Hearst's extravagant entertaining, shedding light on the private life of a very public man.

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The chief: the life of William Randolph Hearst

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The outsized life of William Randolph Hearst is a challenge to any biographer. The son of a miner who made a fortune in Western gold fields, he transformed American journalism as a publisher. He was a ... Read full review

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About the author (2001)

David Nasaw is the author of GOING OUT: THE RISE AND FALL OF PUBLIC AMUSEMENTS and two other books. He has served as a historical consultant for several television documentaries and is currently chair of the doctoral history program at City University of New York. His work has appeared in THE NEW YORKER, THE NATION, Condé Nast's TRAVELER, and other periodicals. He resides in New York City.

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