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Katharine the Great : Katharine Graham and Her Washington Post Empire 3rd Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0941781138
ISBN-10: 0941781135
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Katharine the Great ... is about journalism, politics and presidents, the CIA and celebrities. never dull ... this book deserves attention. - New York Newsday

Worth reading ... Davis's theories about ties between the Post and government merit publication and discussion. - The Nation

About the Author

Deborah Davis is a journalist whose principal interest is the analysis of political power. After earning her degree in political science at the University of California at Berkeley in 1971, she was a regular contributor to the Village Voice, where her reports on city and state politics earned her a reputation as a formidable investigative reporter. In 1976 Ms. Davis left New York for Washington to begin her study of Katharine Graham, where she invested more than three years interviewing, investigating, and conducting research.

Ms. Davis is currently working on a biography of Henry and Clare Boothe Luce. She was born in Chicago, and now lives in Washington.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Inst for Media Analysis; 3 edition (October 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0941781135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0941781138
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By S. Annand on October 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was really quite surprised at this bio of Katharine Graham, owner of The Washington Post (and Madison Council member of the Library of Congress).

I did not realize just how filthy rich this woman was. I found the story of her family (as well as the Jewish heritage) quite fascinating. I did not know, for instance, that her father was responsible for the way stocks are now weighted. That he was able to come up with a scientific (or qualifiable) means to rate stocks was truly revolutionary.

It was due to this wealth that Katharine was introduced to the high and mighty at an early age. Being born self-confident and rich always gives people an edge. I was impressed with her education in that, unlike many rich people, she actually tried to make a difference while at school.

What is most disturbing is the background on how intelligence agencies completely took over the print media. That individuals like Phil Graham and Ben Bradlee were intelligence agents and believed the press should advance government positions shows just how depraved these individuals really were. Not one of them bothered to read or understand the Constitution and the need for a free press.

After Graham died (a tad convenient, don't you think?), Katharine became one of the worst suck-ups to the government. As on page 249, Ward Just was reporting on how badly the Vietnam War was going. Can't have that, you know. Bradlee and Katharine replaced his defeatist reporting with uber-hawk, hack scribbler, and future Library of Congress Director of Communications (brought in by CIA Billington) Peter Braestrup. His take on the Tet Offensive, The Big Story, is always good for a laugh.

There is, because of this, much speculation regarding who did Nixon in. Was it a CIA plot?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Barry Francis on February 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
Originally published in 1979, Katherine the Great by Deborah Davis is the first full length biography of Katharine Graham. It's a book the image-conscious Katharine didn't want published and went to court to stop. After six weeks, publisher Harcourt Brace caved in - recalling and shredding 20,000 copies, even though the book had been nominated for an American book award. Fortunately, a book this important is impossible to suppress. The author sued the publishers and won an important legal victory against censorship.

The book tells the fascinating story of a woman once described as "the most powerful woman in America" - from her privileged early family life to her radical college days and her subsequent conversion to a staunch right wing philosophy. Katharine's father, the fabulously wealthy Eugene Meyer (a former governor of the Federal Reserve Board and President of the World Bank), bought the Washington Post at auction in 1933. She didn't know it then but the Post was to become her destiny.

Katherine's brilliant but erratic husband Philip Graham was appointed publisher of the Post by his father-in-law in 1946. Meanwhile Katharine settled down to home life and raised a family. In the ensuing years, Phil expanded the Washington Post empire into radio, television and newspaper syndication. He also acquired Newsweek Magazine in 1961. By the late 1950s, it became evident that Phil was battling manic depression and alcoholism which led to periodic absences from work, embarrassing episodes and ultimately, in 1963, his suicide.

Following Phil's death, the middle aged and inexperienced Katharine took over management of the Post.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful By anthony gugliemi on April 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have read this book and find it to be both entertaiining and informative.It works on the both the level of biography and media criitique. What Davis has done is to record the history of the Graham family fortune along with the liberal ideological adornments that almost makes the familiy and Katharine Graham somewhat sympathic personages. Almost is good choice with respect to this bunch. Because, as the author does so well in outlining the byzsantine grap for political influence of the Post and its owner, we become aware that the Graham liberalism follows the same path as described by J.S. Mill and smowhat more. Classic liberalism seeks power just as the conservative money class does but with a singular difference that ,it is the message not the methods that makes the difference between the two. The classic liberal, and Graham was cetainly cut from that cloth, wants to promote the cut of fairness, individual rights and the rule of law. In other words the liberal wants everyone to feel equal and that the game of capitalism is a fair game. Thus we have the Washington Post , guardian of fairness, publishing the Pentagon Papers, exposing America's shameful war. Or so goes the myth. But Davis puts the lie to this myth and exposes the CIA links and other covert operative connections in the Post. She exposes the CIA connection with Ben Bradlee, editor of the Post. As we now know, the media in America is far from free( and this applies so much so to the money class who own the media) but as Davis shows the media is infiltrated by government operatives ( especially at the national level) . So as anyone who reads this book will see the media and press must be taken with a grain of doubt.
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