Hearst: Lord of San Simeon

By Oliver Carlson; Ernest Sutherland Bates | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

BEFORE William Randolph Hearst shall pass into the limbo of forgotten things, he will doubtless be the subject of many biographies. An extraordinary person, with extraordinary energy even for an American, he has combined in one a number of careers each of which would have sufficed for lesser men. As a capitalist, creating -- according to the authorized biography by Mrs. Fremont Older -- the second largest fortune in the country, he and his methods would deserve special study as a significant part of the history of American Big Business; for this task, the ideal writer would be one familiar from the inside with such methods -- in other words, an honest Big-Business man. As a journalist, creating the greatest chain of newspapers in the world, Hearst would again deserve a special treatise; and in this case, the ideal writer would be an independent journalist. Once more, as a politician, an incendiary force in American life for forty years, Hearst demands particular consideration, preferably by a disinterested politician. And even if all three such rarities could be found and their special tasks completed there would still remain the larger and more difficult problem of seeing the man as a whole and estimating the emotional and other drives underlying all these special activities.

There is, of course, no such thing as a "definitive biography," for the simple reason that biographers, like their subjects, are products of their times. The obstacles in the way of even a satisfactory biography of such a figure as Hearst are peculiarly evident because of the complexity of the issues involved and the

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