The Life of William Randolph Hearst
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780395827598, 704pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2000
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.
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, Cond� Nast's TRAVELER, and other periodicals. He resides in New York City.
"Nasaw's "The Chief" works on a large, even heroic, canvas and, thanks to Nasaw's exhaustive research, moves on a level of detail that would satisfy even Theodore Dreiser." The Los Angeles Times
"[Nasaw] has given his biography an immediacy that almost makes the reader forget that the author . . . was not there as the story unfolded." --Orville Schell The New York Times
"...the Hearst whom Nasaw portrays...is still the fascinating figure we've known for years: the self-absorbed genius equally addicted to power and possessions..." Publishers Weekly
"...absorbing and sympathetic portrait of an American original, the first full-scale biography of the publishing giant and politician in nearly 40 years." The Chicago Tribune
"In this exhaustively researched biography [Nasaw] has allowed us finally to understand . . . the father of the modern media conglomerate." The Chicago Tribune
"Nasaw's judicious and comprehensive biography sensibly seeks to understand its subject, not to judge him." The New Yorker
"Unlikely to be surpassed as the definitive study of its subject." The Wall Street Journal
"A highly readable portrait of a fascinating individual." The San Francisco Chronicle
"Nasaw keeps his subject human and believable, no easy task when writing about such a colorful and forceful man." The Seattle Times
"The large and in-charge William Randolph Hearst's flirtations with Hitler, Mussolini, and Louis B. Mayer are documented in David Nasaw's utterly absorbing bio." Vanity Fair
"The Chief is both an informative piece of scholarship and a pleasure to read." The San Diego Union-Tribune
"Nasaw's intriguing study is a must-read." The Nation
"A thoroughly researched volume that must be regarded as the definitive work...It's hard to imagine a more complete rendering of Hearst's life." Business Week
"Mr. Nasaw makes Hearst a regular guy . . . and often likable or sympathetic, if far from a universal hero." The New York Times
"...the best biography I read in 2000." -- Jonathan Yardley The Washington Post