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Personal  History
Personal History
Author: Katharine Graham
An extraordinarily frank, honest, and generous book by one of America's most famous and admired women -- a book that is, as its title suggests, composed of both personal memoir and history. — It is the story of Graham's parents: the multimillionaire father who left private business and government service to buy and restore the down-and-out Was...  more », and the formidable, self-absorbed mother who was more interested in her political and charity work, and her passionate friendships with men like Thomas Mann and Adlai Stevenson, than in her children.

It is the story of how The Washington Post struggled to succeed -- a fascinating and instructive business history as told from the inside (the paper has been run by Graham herself, her father, her husband, and now her son).

It is the story of Phil Graham -- Kay's brilliant, charismatic husband (he clerked for two Supreme Court justices) -- whose plunge into manic-depression, betrayal, and eventual suicide is movingly and charitably recounted.

Best of all, it is the story of Kay Graham herself. She was brought up in a family of great wealth, yet she learned and understood nothing about money. She is half-Jewish, yet -- incredibly -- remained unaware of it for many years.She describes herself as having been naive and awkward, yet intelligent and energetic. She married a man she worshipped, and he fascinated and educated her, and then, in his illness, turned from her and abused her. This destruction of her confidence and happiness is a drama in itself, followed by the even more intense drama of her new life as the head of a great newspaper and a great company, a famous (and even feared) woman in her own right. Hers is a life that came into its own with a vengeance -- a success story on every level.

Graham's book is populated with a cast of fascinating characters, from fifty years of presidents (and their wives), to Steichen, Brancusi, Felix Frankfurter, Warren Buffett (her great advisor and protector), Robert McNamara, George Schultz (her regular tennis partner), and, of course, the great names from the Post: Woodward, Bernstein, and Graham's editor/partner, Ben Bradlee. She writes of them, and of the most dramatic moments of her stewardship of the Post (including the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, and the pressmen's strike), with acuity, humor, and good judgment. Her book is about learning by doing, about growing and growing up, about Washington, and about a woman liberated by both circumstance and her own great strengths.
ISBN-13: 9780394585857
ISBN-10: 0394585852
Publication Date: 2/3/1997
Pages: 656
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 14

3.9 stars, based on 14 ratings
Publisher: Knopf
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
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Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Personal History on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I'm not usually a biography reader, but this was great. If you're old enough to remember Watergate, that part is fascinating, but the best bit is her progression from housewife to chairman of the Washington Post. She is humble, uncommon enough from someone with her background and eventual responsibilities. I found it inspiring and a good piece of contemporary history.
reviewed Personal History on + 24 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I really liked this book as a description of grown ups in the 70's; she accurately describes herself and every other mother in the 70's. Also, it is a very good description of how a woman was treated before and after "feminists." Her story is good, Watergate is only a teeny tiny part of the book, but it is a very good commentary on her generation.
reviewed Personal History on
Helpful Score: 3
This is a wonderful, engaging and interesting book. Katharine Graham tells her personal story with humor, insight and a very personal look at the important political changes and developments of the 1960's and 1970's. It is a fascinating read on some of the people at the center of the Watergate scandal.
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reviewed Personal History on + 5 more book reviews
Although I have a lot of respect for Katharine Graham and her story, I found the book too long and cumbersome to read.


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