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The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty Paperback – February 1, 1993

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Each succeeding generation of the Bingham clan, Kentucky's self-styled "First Family" and owners of a progressive newspaper empire that crumbled in 1986, considered itself hexed by a dark family secret. When fabulously wealthy Mary Lily Flagler, wife of Robert Worth Bingham, died in 1917, rumors circulated that he had murdered her. But this enthralling, juicy, prodigiously researched saga presents compelling evidence that she died from cardiovascular syphilis--and that she knew she had the ailment when she married her cruelly unforgiving husband. Her stepson, "patriarch" Barry Bingham Sr., dominated the family with manipulative cunning while remaining emotionally aloof. Generally evenhanded in sorting out the claims of mutually antagonistic Bingham scions, this husband-wife author team (Tifft is a Time associate editor, Jones a New York Times reporter) offers withering portrayals of "Baby Bear" Barry Jr., who carried his ideals to ridiculous extremes, and of Sallie Bingham, limned as a highhanded, comically inept businesswoman whose self-proclaimed feminism overlays festering childhood wounds. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This straightforward, balanced account details the buildup of a newspaper empire by the Binghams of Louisville, Kentucky, and the squabbling among family members that caused Barry Bingham Sr., the patriarch, to decide to sell it all. Tifft, an associate editor of Time magazine, and Jones, a New York Times reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Binghams, have done their homework, interviewing family members and others involved and consulting correspondence in various archives. Readers may wonder at first if they care about this rich family that fought so publicly, but they will soon discover that, in many ways, the Binghams are like us all. Sallie Bingham's Passion and Prejudice ( LJ 2/1/89) gives a more intimate and, of course, different view of the same story. Libraries that bought that one will want this one, too.
- Rebecca Wondriska, Trinity Coll. Lib., Hartford, Ct.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (February 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671797077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671797072
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,367,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I work at a small-town newspaper in Tennessee, but I have family members in Louisville, and in the late 1980s I sometimes heard my aunt complain about the state of Louisville media after the Bingham empire fell apart. So when I saw a copy of this book, I had to read it. I was not disappointed. This is a compelling, scrupulously-researched and masterfully-told story of a family's rise and its bizarre, unpredictable decline. There are riveting family dynamics, such as the contrast between the daughter who remains loyal to the family and the daughter who rebels. There's high-stakes business, such as the scene where an implied threat by two key employees tips Barry Bingham Sr. in favor of breaking up his family empire. There's tragedy, in the form of the separate and premature deaths of two of the three Bingham sons in bizarre circumstances, leaving the third son in a leadership role for which some did not find him suitable. I couldn't put it down on first reading, and there are passages that I've re-read again and again over the years. Highly, highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recently finished "The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times." It was one of the best research and best written books that I have read, so I went looking for other books by Susan Tifft and her husband, Alex Jones.

I have now read most of "The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty." What a great read! Reading about the Bingham family is a little like watching a soap opera--lots of odd characters and plot twists. Also some genuine tragedy.

I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had always wanted to read about the Bingham family. This book thoroughly explains the history and dynamics of the family.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an awesome book. Having lived in Louisville all my life, some of the history of the City was just as interesting as those crazy Binghams.
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