The Magnificent Medills
America's Royal Family of Journalism During a Century of Turbulent Splendor
By Megan McKinney
(HarperTorch, Hardcover, 9780061782237, 464pp.)
Publication Date: October 2011
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The riveting story of the countrys first media dynasty, the Medills of Chicago, whose power and influence shaped the story of America and American journalism for four generations
When thirty-two-year-old former lawyer Joseph Medill bought a controlling stake in the bankrupt Chicago Daily Tribune in 1855, he had no way of foreseeing the unparalleled influence he and his progeny would have on the world of journalism and on American society at large.
Medill personally influenced the political tide that transformed America during the midnineteenth century by fostering the Republican Party, engineering the election of Abraham Lincoln and serving as a catalyst for the outbreak of the Civil War. The dynasty he established, filled with colorful characters, went on to take American journalism by storm. His grandson, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, personified Chicago, as well as its great newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, throughout much of the twentieth century. Roberts cousin, Joseph Medill Patterson, started the New York Daily News, and Joes sister, Cissy Patterson, was the innovative editor of the Washington Times-Herald. In the fourth generation, Alicia Patterson founded Long Islands Newsday, the most stunning journalistic accomplishment of postWorld War II America.
Printers ink raged in the veins of the Medills, the McCormicks and the Pattersons throughout a century, and their legacy prevailed for another five decadesalways in the forefront of events, shaping the intellectual and social pulse of America. At the same time, the dark side of the intellectual stardom driving the dynasty was a destructive compulsion that left clan members crippled by their personal demons of chronic depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and even madness and suicide.
Rife with authentic conversations and riveting quotes, The Magnificent Medills is the premiere cultural history of Americas first media empire. This dynamic family and their brilliance, eccentricities and ultimate self-destruction are explored in a sweeping narrative that interweaves the familys personal activities and public achievements against a larger historical background. Authoritative, compelling and thoroughly engaging, The Magnificent Medills brings the pages of history that the Medills wrote vividly to life.