No Ordinary Joe: A Life of Joseph Pulitzer III

Daniel W. Pfaff, Author University of Missouri Press $39.95 (359p) ISBN 978-0-8262-1607-6
During his 38-year tenure as publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joseph Pulitzer III (1913 - 1993) steered the paper through the 20th century's most socially transformative events, holding fast to the vision set out by his grandfather in 1907: ""Always fight for progress and reform...always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong."" Pfaff, a Penn State journalism professor who had access to Pulitzer's papers, family and acquaintances, ably recounts his subject's professional and personal lives, but casual readers unfamiliar with newspaper culture may have a hard time following the lengthy discussion of newsroom politics. JPIII grew up in luxury, went to the best schools, was known for his stately bearing and impeccable manners, was passionate about modern art, but felt duty-bound to follow in his father's footsteps. In his day, the Post Dispatch's ""reputation as one of the top five metropolitan newspapers in the country rested on its intellectual tone and its attention to national and international affairs."" Indeed, it was among the first to oppose war in Vietnam. (LBJ sent Dean Rusk to St. Louis to reason with the editors, was rebuffed, and canceled the White House subscription.) Yet, JPIII ordered his editor to treat opinion pieces with ""icy detachment"" and avoid displays of emotion. In many ways, the author follows this dictum in his comprehensive look at a powerful American aristocrat who straddled the worlds of journalism, business and the arts. Photos.
Reviewed on: 11/28/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 376 pages - 978-0-8262-6501-2
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