THUNDER IN THE ROCKIES: The Incredible Denver Post by Bill Hosokawa

THUNDER IN THE ROCKIES: The Incredible Denver Post

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Hosokawa, a Denver Post writer of thirty years' tenure, has done for his paper what Gay Talese did for his alma mater in The Kingdom and the Power. Talese is a stronger journalist and he had a subject of infinitely greater inherent interest, but the press will latch onto this one anyway. As Hosokawa points out, news publishers present an implacable, seemingly objective face to the public, chronicling the lives and times of everyone but themselves. But behind the banner headlines and reasoned editorials, each paper has its own power struggles and human drama--in effect, its own personality. And the biography of the Post is a great yarn. It had a difficult birth in 1892, and barely crawled along until its acquisition three years later by two horse thieves named Tammen and Bonfils whose showmanship (including an infamous red-inked front page with crazy-quilt typography), autocratic bullying and sheer dishonesty made them a heap of money and made the Post a political force to reckon with in the Rocky Mountains. Hosokawa devotes a lot of attention to a complex legal conflict over corporate ownership, which became still more complex after the stock passed on to the two Bonfils sisters who hated each other. He records the millions in profits that accrued to the bosses, along with the appallingly penurious wages paid to reporters--a situation which produces many contradictions. Every other chapter is a self-contained vignette full of exploits like those of cowboy Lord Ogilvy, the paper's resident cattle specialist. The book is flawed by a lack of continuity and a frequently spotty and rambling narrative but is nonetheless an engrossing profile of what developed into one of our better American newspapers--that is, once those crooks Tammen and Bonfils were out of the picture.

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 1975
Publisher: Morrow