Academic journal article Journalism History

Personal History

Academic journal article Journalism History

Personal History

Article excerpt

Graham, Katharine. Personal History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. 625 pp. $29.95.

Katharine Graham's autobiography, Personal History, could not be more aptly titled. It is one woman's journey, chronicling her family, her friends, and her career through joy and despair. It is set against the backdrop of history central to the twentieth century. From key figures such as John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, to highwater marks in journalism such as the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, this Washington insider shares her private version of some of the country's most public people and events.

While the book is a history of the Washington Post Company and its ascension to one of the most powerful and prestigious media companies of our time, the story told is a much richer and deeply felt one. It could have ended up as a dry recounting of the Post Company's string of corporate and journalistic triumphs. It does not. Graham's honesty and her unique relationship to the company guarantees this. As the daughter and wife of men who were at the helm of the company, and later as the president herself, she provides the reader a look at the intimate workings of a newspaper and a media corporation. She also communicates a great understanding of the complexities of a daily metro paper in the nation's capital and her unwavering belief in the importance of the press' role in the governing of the country.

But it is Graham's candidness and honesty about her company's shortcomings and her struggles that give this story its authenticity. …

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