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Newspaper Titan: The Infamous Life and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson Hardcover – September 6, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"HUGELY READABLE...a model of its kind. Combining her subject's vitality with an accuracy and restraint wholly absent in the mercurial publisher, Smith gives us the fullest, fairest portrait we are ever likely to have of Cissy Patterson, her family, and their contentious approach to the news." -Richard Norton Smith in THE WEEKLY STANDARD

"This book has it all: power, glamour, sex, war, and scandal.  Cissy Patterson was a formidable figure in the American Century, and Amanda Smith has done a splendid job bringing the great newspaper publisher back to vivid life."  -Jon Meacham

"Newspaper Titan is exemplary." -COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW

"Filled with more backstabbing, social climbing, and decadence than a season of Dynasty, Newspaper Titan is the story of canny Medill heiress Cissy Patterson, the 20th century's first major female editor in chief, whose personal life was a Whartonian saga of American entitlement colliding with dubious European aristocracy."  -VOGUE.com

Called "perhaps the most powerful" and the "most hated" woman in America in the 1940s, Cissy's fascinating and curious life is examined here in detail. But this lengthy book is never boring, because its subject is such an outrageously flamboyant and historically significant figure.  -SHELF-AWARENESS.COM

About the Author

Amanda Smith was born and raised in New York City. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College. She is the editor of Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy. Smith lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375411003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375411007
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,466,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What a life! I had never heard of Cissy Patterson but I am glad I have now. This book tells the true story of a woman who lived a remarkable life and made an indelible mark in newspaper history. In the age of internet and 24 hour news cycle it is fascinating to read and remember how important the daily newspaper was and how salacious they could be--Cissy Patterson knew that well. An enjoyable read, my only question: when will the movie be made?
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Format: Hardcover
I echo previous reviewers' acclaim for Cissy Patterson as a gripping subject and wish to add that Ms. Smith's research and composition are top-tier. There are no loose ends, no false leads, no shallow reporting, none of those weaknesses that can drive a biography reader crazy. The author compiled scores of sources and her 1300+ footnotes show she made good use of them, but the result is not numbing as can happen with a less-deft hand, rather, the material flows precisely because it doesn't have to be stretched to fill gaps. Your time spent reading Newspaper Titan will be rewarded with intelligent writing and a wild story!
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Format: Hardcover
NEWSPAPER TITAN is a great read, just what a biography should be. Cissy Patterson is a fascinating subject, and Amanda Smith covers her jaw-dropping life in engaging detail. I've read other accounts of the lives of members of the Medill family, but this is one of the few (like Richard Norton Smith's excellent biography of Cissy's cousin, Col. McCormick) to treat its subject seriously and accurately.

Smith has gone beyond the usual, rehashed tabloid accounts of Cissy Patterson's glamorous marriage to a Polish count, her sensational divorce, the kidnapping of her daughter, and her ultimate triumphs (and infamy) as the nation's only woman newspaper publisher, to give the reader the real story behind the headlines. The amount of research Smith did is amazing, and it really pays off in the book itself, which reads almost like a novel. The story of Cissy's daughter's kidnapping and how the Czar and the President of the United States helped get her back will keep you on the edge of your seat. And it's all true! The book is long, but I coudn't put it down, and I didn't want it to end. Highly recommended, not only to anyone with an interest in the history of American journalism, but to general readers too.
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Format: Hardcover
Newspaper Titan is a fascinating biography of Cissy Patterson, the world's first but long-since-forgotten woman media mogul.

Author Amanda Smith leads you to her through a brilliantly descriptive portrayal of what life was like for this lithe and lively only Granddaughter of one of America's true titans - Joseph Medill - who, after building a powerful media empire, the Chicago tribune - left young Cissy to play the only roles expected of her - debutant, socialite, spectacularly intriguing heiress.

But, as Smith shows us in a manner that kept me literally on the edge of my seat, fortunes changed early - and drastically - when a naive and vulnerable young Cissy falls prey to the seductive powers of a shadowy money-seeking European Count who, stepping right out of a novel by Edith Wharton or Henry James, shatters her world with his incessant philandering and unrelenting, escalating physical abuse before kidnapping their only child.

That Cissy Patterson survived both the marriage and the shocking scandal, so well-publicized that it drew the attention and intervention of an American President and a Russian Tzar alike, is amazing in and of itself.

That she managed to later become, at 49 years of age, the first woman to run a major American Newspaper (1930) and later (1939) to own one is beyond astounding.

New­­spaper Titan is a riveting book that I highly recommend.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Amanda Smith has written what must be considered the definitive biography of both Eleanor Medill Patterson and her extended family. Known as "Cissy" from her birth, she was the granddaughter of publishing tycoon Joseph Medill, who began the Chicago Tribune in the 1870's. Medill had two daughters - one was Cissy's mother - and from those daughters came four astounding grandchildren. Three of the four were active in the newspaper industry in Chicago, New York, and Washington DC. The fourth was active in Illinois politics until his early death - possibly as a suicide.

Cissy Patterson was married twice and divorced once and widowed once. As the proto-typical rich American girl, she ran off with a Polish nobleman who had more cache than cash. Unhappy from the beginning of the marriage, Cissy produced one daughter, Felicia, who was the subject of a long custody battle between her parents. Basically, though, Cissy's parents "bought" off her estranged husband and Cissy had full custody of her daughter. However, the indifferent mothering Cissy received from her own mother, was repeated in her relationship with her only child. And, curiously, the same diffident mothering was continued by Felicia to her own daughter, also an only child. Strange how those things happen, generation after generation...

But if Cissy Patterson Gizycka Schlesinger was not the maternal type, she was a rabble-rouser. Famed for her Washington DC feuds with Alice Roosevelt Longworth and other socialites and political figures, Cissy was hired by William Randolph Hearst in 1937 to run his combined "Washington Times-Herald".
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