Synopses & Reviews
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.
"[T]he Hearst whom Nasaw portrays in such extraordinary (and excessive) detail is still the fascinating figure we've known for years: the self-absorbed genius equally addicted to power and possessions, the press baron interested not just in reporting news but in making and manipulating it." Publishers Weekly
"It is unlikely to be surpassed as the definitive study of its subject. Mr. Nasaw takes no psychological liberties and leaves it to the reader to judge the ultimate effects upon Hearst of his distant father, who made his fortune in mining and prospecting." Wall Street Journal
"This thoroughly researched volume must be regarded as the definitive life of the media mogul." Buisiness Week
"Enjoying the cooperation of family members and access to new primary sources, Nasaw has written a richer biography than the previous standard." Library Journal
Named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Business Week, and GQ, THE CHIEF: THE LIFE OF WILLIAM RANDLOPH HEARST is “an absorbing and ingeniously organized biography . . . of the most powerful publisher America has ever known” (New York Times Book Review). Drawing on papers and interviews that were previously unavailable, as well as on newly released documentation of interactions with such figures as Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, every president from Grover Cleveland to Franklin Roosevelt, and movie giants Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, and Irving Thalberg, David Nasaw completes the picture of this colossal American “engagingly, lucidly and fair-mindedly” (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.).
“Outstandingly researched, elegantly but not flamboyantly written, and fair in its conclusions about Hearsts astonishing career” (Wall Street Journal), THE CHIEF “must be regarded as the definitive study . . . Its hard to imagine a more complete rendering of Hearsts life” (Business Week).
The epic scope of historian Nasaw's award winning biography matches the titanic personality and achievements of William Randolph Hearst (1862-1951), who built the nation's first media conglomerate from a single San Francisco newspaper.
About the Author
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.
Table of Contents
CONTENTS Acknowledgments / vii Preface / xiii i. GREAT EXPECTATIONS 1. A Son of the West 3 2. To Europe Again and on to Harvard 23 3. "Something Where I Could Make a Name" 39 ii. PROPRIETOR AND EDITOR 4. At the Examiner 67 5. "I Can't Do San Francisco Alone" 82 6. Hearst in New York: "Staging a Spectacle" 95 7. "How Do You Like the Journal's War?" 125 iii. PUBLISHER, POLITICIAN, CANDIDATE, AND CONGRESSMAN 8. Representing the People 145 9. "Candidate of a Class" 168 10. "A Force to Be Reckoned With" 186 11. Man of Mystery 202 12. Party Leader 214 13. Hearst at Fifty: Some Calm Before the Storms 227 iv. OF WAR AND PEACE 14. "A War of Kings" 241 15. "Hearst, Hylan, the Hohenzollerns, and the Habsburgs" 260 v. A MASTER BUILDER 16. Building a Studio 277 17. Builder and Collector 287 18. Marion, Millicent, and the Movies 303 19. A Return to Normalcy 315 20. Another Last Hurrah 328 vi. THE KING AND QUEEN OF HOLLYWOOD 21. "Do You Know Miss Marion Davies, the Movie Actress?" 337 22. Family Man 351 23. Dream Houses 362 24. Businesses as Usual 377 25. A New Crusade: Europe 398 26. The Talkies and Marion 409 vii. THE DEPRESSION 27. "Pretty Much Flattened Out" 423 28. "An Incorrigible Optimist" 437 29. The Chief Chooses a President 452 viii. NEW DEALS AND RAW DEALS 30. Hearst at Seventy 469 31. Hearst and Hitler 488 32. The Last Crusade 500 ix. THE FALL 33. The Fall 527 34. "All Very Sad, But We Cannot Kick Now" 543 35. Citizen Kane 564 36. Old Age 575 Epilogue 604 Notes / 609 Index / 657