Eleven chapters of recycled tattle and trivia about the Hearsts, the Chandlers, the Sarnoffs et al.--and one somewhat-informative puff piece about the Dow Jones' financial periodicals (for which Thomas works). Apart from that entry--an adequate fill-in on the history of the Wall Street Journal, fireball editor/publisher Clarence Walker Barron, and (even here) the Ponzi scandal--the book has going for it only a little bit about a few slightly offbeat subjects (like Abraham Cahan's Jewish Daily Forward) and some relatively up-to-date dirt on fringe phenomena (like the sex magazines). But the tenor, the tone, the (scattershot) coverage is pretty much set in the first chapter, ""Jimmy Bennett of the New York Herald Springs a Leak: From Clipper Ships to the Birth of the Associated Press."" The highlight is indeed an extended account of James Gordon Bennett, Jr.'s ""spectacular leak"" in the fireplace of his financÃ‰e's mansion--to illustrate, ostensibly, ""the arrogance of the great American publishing clans."" (Thereafter we skip quickly from Pulitzer to Hearst to the Johnstown Flood and the founding of AP.) The chapter on the Washington Post comes close to being an outright smear: subtitled ""Katherine Graham and the Buried Scandals of the Washington Post,"" it dredges up a Harding-era indiscretion involving the then-Post owner. The book is so tasteless and tacky, in fact, that it might find some readers just on that basis.