THE HEARSTS: FATHER AND SON by William Randolph Hearst


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 Vapid, once-over-lightly reminiscences from the scion of a publishing dynasty who, at age 83, looks back on a privileged, eventful life through rose-colored spectacles. One of five sons of William Randolph Hearst, ``Bill'' (as he's generally known) recalls a bicoastal boyhood that kept him shuttling between a 31-room apartment in Manhattan and his father's California pleasure dome of San Simeon. A college dropout, the author was given a job as a beat reporter on his father's New York American. Appointed publisher in 1937 of what was then the Journal- American, he quickly became a fixture on the cafÇ-society scene. During WW II, Hearst assigned himself to Europe as a correspondent; after the war, he returned to the same old stand, marrying his third wife (who's still with him) in 1948. Following the death of Hearst, Sr., in 1951, the author became the chain's editor-in- chief. Today, he remains titular head of editorial operations and writes a column for the empire's dwindling number of newspapers, but the family firm is controlled by professional managers. With scarcely a word here about his brothers (three of whom are now dead), Hearst offers often inane assessments of family members, friends, and acquaintances (on his father: ``He was in his own way like Pearl Buck who loved the land and the peasants of China''). Nor does Hearst provide keen insights on either the legendary journalists (Bob Considine, Dorothy Kilgallen, Westbrook Pegler, Walter Winchell) or many notables (Winston Churchill, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable, George Patton, George Bernard Shaw, etc.) with whom he came in contact. Hearst has a few harsh words for de Gaulle, Nehru, Richard Berlin (a corporate executive he accuses of working against the founder's legacy), and the producers of Citizen Kane. Otherwise, even in the case of niece Patty's abduction, he is the soul of circumspect discretion. An insider's memoir that reads like the self-censored testimonial of a loyal hack. The wispy text has over 100 photographs and other illustrations, including cartoons (some seen).

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1991
ISBN: 1-879373-04-1
Page count: 450pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991