William Randolph Hearst was one of the most colorful and important figures of turn-of-the-century America, a man who changed the face of American journalism and whose influence extends to the present day. Now, in William Randolph Hearst, Ben Procter gives us the most authoritative account of Hearst's extraordinary career in newspapers and politics.
Born to great wealth--his father was a partial owner of four fabulously rich mines--Hearst began his career in his early twenties by revitalizing a rundown newspaper, the San Franciso Examiner. Hearst took what had been a relatively sedate form of communicating information and essentially created the modern tabloid, complete with outrageous headlines, human interest stories, star columnists, comic strips, wide photo coverage, and crusading zeal. His papers fairly bristled with life. By 1910 he had built a newspaper empire--eight papers and two magazines read by nearly three million people. Hearst did much to create "yellow journalism"--with the emphasis on sensationalism and the lowering of journalistic standards. But Procter shows that Hearst's papers were also challenging and innovative and powerful: They exposed corruption, advocated progressive reforms, strongly supported recent immigrants, became a force in the Democratic Party, and helped ignite the Spanish-American War. Procter vividly depicts Hearst's own political career from his 1902 election to Congress to his presidential campaign in 1904 and his bitter defeats in New York's Mayoral and Gubernatorial races.
Written with a broad narrative sweep and based on previously unavailable letters and manuscripts, William Randoph Hearst illuminates the character and era of the man who left an indelible mark on American journalism.
"A lively read...a literate, fact-packed tale of a man obsesses with succeeding."--New York Post
"[Procter's] portrait of Willie Hearst is penetrating."--The Washington Post Book World
"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.... detail-packed, competently written volume."-- Publishers Weekly
"Procter worked hard on this book, reading, he says, every issue of such Hearst newspapers as the New York Journal (later the New York American) and the San Francisco Examiner over several years."-- Kirkus Reviews
"In a style that is fresh and captures the imagination, Procter's impressive biography will replace everything written thus far about the early career of William Randolph Hearst."--Richard Lowitt, Professor of History, The University of Oklahoma
"Procter's Hearst is by far the most believable and comprehensive portrait yet drawn. The popular version of the publisher, much influenced by the movie Citizen Kane, is an exercise in reductio ad absurdum. But the practice of either idolizing or denigrating Hearst and all his works comes to an end with this book. Well written, carefully researched, William Randolph Hearst is an invaluable reassessment of the most important publisher
of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."--David Trask, author of The War With Spain in 1898
"Solidly researched.... It will be a welcome addition to academic journalism history collections."--Library Journal
"Makes more clear and specific than ever the acts and events that shaped this enigmatic and powerful figure in our national history. Most of the major events have been written about before, but the concentrated impact of the new ones makes the evidence all the more compelling."--San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
"This meticulously researched book, the first of a two-volume study, corrects some earlier errors, adds some new information gleaned from recently released letters and other manuscript materials, and presents Hearst in a lively, engaging manner."--Star Ledger
"Previous biographers have given short shrift to Hearst's stormy academic career, his unexpected entry into the newspaper business and the thought behind his new syle of tabloid journalism. Proctor, 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.... Judging by this detail-packed, competently
written volume, the follow-up ought to be worth waiting for."--Publisher's Weekly