William Randolph Hearst: The Later Years, 1911–1951

Ben Procter, Author . Oxford Univ. $30 (325p) ISBN 978-0-19-532534-8

In the second and final installment of Hearst's biography, Procter (Not Without Honor: The Life of John H. Reagan ) attempts to humanize the reigning avatar of American media tycoonism. This is no easy task. Hearst's lavish and exotic tastes, his romantic juggling acts, his voracious appetite for anything that cost money and his ruthless pursuit of political office easily congeal into cartoonish self-parody. Procter, a history professor at Texas Christian University, proves that Hearst's intentions were pure—he genuinely wanted to improve the lives of all Americans. The focal point of the mogul's last 40 years is an unshakable political curse. Never internalizing the art of compromise, Hearst failed again and again to parlay his national newspaper puissance into political capital. He had a great knack for making, embellishing and fabricating the news, but no talent for anticipating it, as he continually dug his heels into the historically wrong side of all the big issues—from U.S. involvement in WWI and WWII to Roosevelt's New Deal. Revelatory research into the finer points of Hearst's protean political alliances is rich in detail, as is his infamous meeting with Hitler, but the author delivers the same summaries over and over again. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
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