Customer Reviews


204 Reviews
5 star:
 (113)
4 star:
 (51)
3 star:
 (26)
2 star:
 (9)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful combination of substance and opportunity!
Since I grew up in a house where the "Washington Post" was devoured daily, I was always aware of Katherine Graham. I read this book shortly after she passed away, and I was knocked off my feet.

She was blessed by the accident of her birth into a family of extreme wealth and ultimate social position. Her family's advantages - sadly compounded by her husband's...
Published on September 15, 2005 by Joan C. Frank

versus
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An author who is more interesting than her book
I looked forward to reading this because I thought Katharine Graham has led an interesting live. The reviews were outstanding. After reading the book, I am of the opinion that the reviewers reviewed Katherine Graham's life, not her book. If ever a good editor was needed, it was during the first third of this book. I ended up where I began - interesting life. Can't...
Published on July 3, 1997


‹ Previous | 1 221 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful combination of substance and opportunity!, September 15, 2005
By 
Joan C. Frank (Silver Spring, MD USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Personal History (Hardcover)
Since I grew up in a house where the "Washington Post" was devoured daily, I was always aware of Katherine Graham. I read this book shortly after she passed away, and I was knocked off my feet.

She was blessed by the accident of her birth into a family of extreme wealth and ultimate social position. Her family's advantages - sadly compounded by her husband's untimely death - gave her inumerable opportunities. At the same time, she was brilliant, capable, focused, and a gifted communicator. This combination of traits and circumstances allowed her to live a most enthralling, significant life.

Throughout, I marveled at her "realness." Her family had more money and servants and things than anyone I am ever likely to meet, but she describes her challenges, insecurities, and fears in a way that allow me to appreciate how she faced and succeeded in life.

This is a compelling read despite its length and detailed content. It is well documented and beautifully written - without the aid of a ghostwriter. It does not suffer from spurious melodrama, myopia, or vanity to which so many autobiographers fall victim.

I highly recommend both the form and substance of this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I hope I have a story like this I can tell at age 80, May 10, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Personal History (Paperback)
I read this book's first chapter on the internet, and knew I had to buy it. I was captivated by the analysis and detail in the early chapters, specifically targeted at her parents, their relationship, and the impact they had on her and her siblings. Details are gradually drawn away from family and, after Phil Graham's death, is focused almost entirely on her career at the Post. But the new focus her life takes is nothing short of inspirational, and her recollection (and application)of detail provides us with an absorbing panorama of faces and places. Having known little about the newspaper industry prior to this book, I am eager to know more, and put Ms. Graham's tremendous accomplishments in a more informed perspective. Despite her insecurities, fears and worries (which were difficult to read--even to believe--at times) they are obviously a part of her personality, and by revealing them she made her story more compelling. I felt that, if her point was to write a manual for success, she could have done so. But how much she would have deprived us of! The only serious deficiency I found was that I thought, with the great deal of commentary at the beginning of the book concerning how she and her siblings were raised--with particular emphasis on her mother's influence--that she would have included more on what the effects of her own role as a mother were. But, this omission seems to have been a conscious one on her part. This was my nightly reading for quite some time, and I feel a little sad that I no longer have it to look forward to! Though I was certainly glad when the interminably long segment on the pressmen's strike was over, as important as the incident was...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting & life affirming, August 15, 2001
By 
This review is from: Personal History (Paperback)
Anyone wanting any more insights into Watergate or the Pentagon Papers will probably be disappointed by this book (if you want that read Ben Bradlee's autobiography). This book is very aptly titled - it is indeed a personal history and what comes out in the end is the story of a woman who via her upbringing and marriage was afflicted by a crushing lack of confidence, deeply insecure, troubled by some of her closest relationships (in particular her own mother) and in her own words little more than a housewife. This same person upon the death of her husband was thrust into a world which she was totally unsuited for and against all odds flourished as the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
What comes out in the end is that people in general and women in particular are capable of taking grievous blows and overcoming far greater challenges than they ever realise.
A friend of mine lost her partner in similar circumstances to Katharine Graham many years ago and I wish I could have bought her this book then. Without wanting to sound patronising, this is a good book for men but a great book women. I don't know whether she is a feminist icon but she certainly should be !!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical coming-of-age story, June 30, 2002
By 
frumiousb "frumiousb" (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Personal History (Paperback)
A treasure for people who make a hobby out of media stories, as I do, _Personal History_ is as much about the Post as it is about Graham herself. But as I think Graham is saying in the book, everything personal in her life was somehow linked to the paper-- either through her own efforts at its helm or as the wife and daughter of the men who were leading it.
I've read a lot of the criticism of this book-- and I know enough about media history to know that at least some of it is fair. At least in the sense that it's accurate. Graham doesn't come out wearing a hair shirt about the real media relationship to people in power. She also has a slightly nervous tone-- the sound of someone who isn't very sure her accomplishments are going to be achieved. But in the end I found that even valid criticisms didn't really interfere with my reading of the book. In the end I was moved by it, and felt honored that Graham was so willing to put herself out there to be observed and judged.
In some respects it's difficult to argue that Graham had a difficult life-- she was born to such enormous privilege that she had resources to deal with tragedy that most people can never command. (You hear her refer to her family's 'summer home', but what the means remains opaque until you see the picture!). Even still, Graham is human. To be constantly in the shadow of the people in your life, to see yourself as helpmeet and not a full person, to emerge from that shadow and assert that you have a place in your own right-- that's certainly something that speaks to everyone, regardless of who they are.
What I find extraordinary is how revealing the book is about her insecurities. This is a very personal autobiography, and Graham lets you see her weaknesses in a way that I think most public figures would not allow. I don't agree with many of the positions Graham takes, and certainly she and I are light years apart in almost every aspect of background and experience, but I felt lucky that I was able to read this book. And I was also glad that she wrote it.
A book to read, and to give away as a gift.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Resiliency and Emotional Toughness of the Self-Taught CEO, December 10, 2001
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Personal History (Hardcover)
Ms. Katharine Graham's autobiography explores many dimensions of life that will appeal to readers: lifestyles of the rich and famous with her celebrity and society friends; an inside look at one of America's most powerful and famous families in the 20th century; overcoming the personal tragedy of being married to a brilliant, manic-depressive cheater who was nasty to her; a history of the rise of the Washington Post from a minor D.C. paper to the top ranks of international journalism; becoming the head of a family that had been dominated by strong personalities who had put her in a supporting role; seeing the interactions of the press with presidents up close; and learning to be a female publisher and CEO on the job with almost no prior experience.
If you are like me, you will find the sections of the book about her growing up as Andre Meyer's daughter, Watergate, the strike with the pressman's union at the Post, and her relationship with Warren Buffett to be the most interesting parts of the book.
If, like me, you decide that you find Ms. Graham appealing, it will probably be because of her willingness to do the right thing, even when very painful and dangerous to her, and her loyalty to others . . . even when that loyalty may not have been earned. Even to her enemies, she held out olive branches to keep lines of communication open . . . which were often rejected.
Although the book is candid about her own failings (having been too sheltered as a child and wife, making lots of mistakes in picking and working with people at the Washington Post Company, and being too accepting of male chauvinism) and family members who are deceased (especially her father, mother, and husband), she pulls back from any significant observations about many of her friends and acquaintances who are still living. You will see these people primarily from the perspective of having been lunch and dinner companions and guests. A curtain of privacy is also pulled over long sections of her life. For example, you will find out the names of the people and the yacht that she disappeared on for several weeks, but nothing about what occurred.
On the other hand, CEO autobiographies usually toot the horn of the CEO. The closest this one comes to tooting is quoting Warren Buffett in pointing out that Washington Post Company stock grew more than double the rate of any other similar company during the time when she was CEO. Actually, even that observation is modest. As measured by stock-price performance, Ms. Graham is one of the great CEOs of the 20th century.
She has also left behind a legacy of commitment to a free press from the Pentagon Papers publication and the Watergate exposures that will stand as a beacon for future publishers. In either case, she could have lost the bulk of her wealth and influence had things turned out differently. Most CEOs would be reluctant to take those kinds of risks in the public interest. Certainly, there was no financial windfall to taking these courses. It was simply the right thing to do. Thank you, Ms. Graham!
Have you ever been in a situation where you were supposed to know how to do something, but had no clue? Throughout her business career, Ms. Graham was placed in that awkward situation. Towards the end of the book, she reveals that she wished that she had attended Harvard Business School. Throughout her business career, Ms. Graham reveals here feeling like a fraud and not knowing what questions to ask. But in business, it's usually more important what you do than what you know. And she kept moving forward until she found a method that worked. That kind of perseverance takes great moral courage, and I was impressed to realize just how much more difficult her accomplishments were to achieve than they seemed to outsiders.
Where should you be taking a more active role in choosing your life's direction? Where should you be more understanding of friends and family members? Where should you keep the lines of communications open? Where should you draw the line at accommodation?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read and tour of 20th century America, August 22, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Personal History (Paperback)
I nearly gave this book a pass because of it's length. I'm of the opinion that for reasons of humility and economy no autobiography should exceed 400 pages. That said, this is a rewarding read. Graham writes with grace and wit of a complex life. One which began at the tail end of New York's gilded age and threaded it's way through the great epoches and events of the American century. She was not a great molder of those events, although her position as Publisher of the Washington Post was not without influence. Graham does, however, have insight and perception of the many great personalities, in all realms of human endeavor, which passed through her life. Circumstance and privilege gave her a box seat to history, personal tragedy and turbulence gave her an inner awareness of the human dimension of those events. This is a fine biography of a woman whose uncompromising style stamped it's mark on the American newspaper business, a notoriously masculine endeavor. The four stars are a reflection of my feeling that book could have profited from a more forceful editor. It's well worth the effort, however, and should be considered a must for all students of American political and social history of the 20th century.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long before Albright and Oprah there was....Katherine Graham, September 21, 1999
This review is from: Personal History (Paperback)
I didnt know or had ever heard of Mrs Graham prior to picking up this book by chance in the university bookshop. A brave and modest person if ever there was one.I was impressed with her ability to take hold of her life in such a desperate time following the death of her husband,despite her innate misgivings.It reminded me of the many women out there having lost their partners for one reason or another were in situations not much different from her own.The only difference being she was the wife of a millionaire publisher with resposibility for the livelihoods of thousands of workers.I admired her ability to face down adversity,particularly during the Nixon administration when she was vilified by John Mitchell.And for a long time as owner of the Wsshington Post it was rumoured that she was 'Deep Throat".A claim she always denied as did Woodward & Bernstein.What a delicious little postscript had it been true...! We must all wish her well in this her twilight years,but oh what an anti-climax it must be after such an interesting journey.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An author who is more interesting than her book, July 3, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Personal History (Hardcover)
I looked forward to reading this because I thought Katharine Graham has led an interesting live. The reviews were outstanding. After reading the book, I am of the opinion that the reviewers reviewed Katherine Graham's life, not her book. If ever a good editor was needed, it was during the first third of this book. I ended up where I began - interesting life. Can't wait for the biography. Ms. Graham did not bring herself to life. I could never picture her in her house or at the dinner table. I felt she kept us at something more than arm's length. And while she shared some very personal events, I never felt the emotional impact
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Impersonal personal history, September 21, 2003
This review is from: Personal History (Paperback)
I thought I would be giving 5 stars for an award winning book but after reading, it just fell short. There was too much name-dropping, one has to be very familiar with the power scene of Washington at her time to really appreciate who was who and their significance. That itself made the book very unapproachable to readers who do not move in her circle, non-American, the younger generation etc. A lot of time she just mentioned the names and expected the readers to know who they were or connect to her earlier mentions (it would really be a pain to constantly check the index and refer back to the earlier pages!)
This book read like an account of achievement of her father, her husband and herself. Honestly, Katharine came across as someone fairly stupid (though kind), I couldn't help to wonder if she was who she was simply because of her birth, marriage and being there at the right time. For a personal history, it came across as fairly impersonal.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Katie, We Hardly Knew Ye..., August 14, 2001
This review is from: Personal History (Audio Cassette)
Few passings have effected me in the manner in which Ms. Graham's did and I went back to my audiotape of her book to revisit the life of the most powerful woman in American journalism. There are so many reviews, it seemed silly to add another, but loyalty drove me to add my two cents. Born to wealth, shy and reserved by choice, controlled by marriage and the societal pressures of the day, this woman broke out of the preset mold after the long mental illness and eventual suicide of her husband to take the Washington Post to the people and to the Fortune 500 list. She gave the order to run with the Watergate story, to publish the Pentagon Papers, and lived through the pressman's strike. I reveled in her story as read by the woman herself. I cried when her voice broke as she retold the death of her life partner and her regrets about her sometimes limited parenting skills. Katharine Graham crows about her successes and openly admits her failings. Not the usual celebrity self worship and well worth hearing. I'll miss you, Katie.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 221 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Personal History
Personal History by Katharine Graham (Paperback - February 24, 1998)
$17.95 $12.23
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.