Newspaper Titan by Amanda Smith
The Infamous Life and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson

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Synopsis

From the author of Hostage to Fortune; The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy ("Superb" --Michael Beschloss; "Remarkable" --Arthur Schlesinger), the galvanizing story of Eleanor Medill (Cissy) Patterson, celebrated debutante and socialite, scion of the Chicago Tribune empire, and the twentieth century's first woman editor in chief and publisher of a major metropolitan daily newspaper, the Washington Times-Herald.

She was called the most powerful woman in America, surpassing Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Clare Boothe Luce, and Dorothy Schiff.

Cissy Patterson was from old Republican stock. Her grandfather was Joseph Medill, firebrand abolitionist, mayor of Chicago, editor in chief and principal owner of the Chicago Tribune, and one of the founders of the Republican Party who delivered the crucial Ohio delegation to Abraham Lincoln at the convention of 1860.

Cissy Patterson's brother, Joe Medill Patterson, started the New York Daily News.Her pedigree notwithstanding, Cissy Patterson came to publishing shortly before her forty-ninth birthday, in 1930, with almost no practical journalistic or editorial experience and a life out of the pages of Edith Wharton (or more likely the other way around: shades of Cissy are everywhere in the Countess Olenska).

Amanda Smith writes that in the summer of 1930, Cissy Patterson, educated at the turn of the century at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut, for a vocation of marriage and motherhood and a place in society, took over William Randolph Hearst's foundering Washington Herald and began to learn what others believed she could never grasp--how to run and build up a newspaper. She vividly lived out the Medill family's editorial motto (at least in spirit): "When you grandmother gets raped, put it on the front page."

Patterson soon bought from Hearst the Herald's evening sister paper, the Washington Times, merged the two, and became editor, publisher, and sole proprietor of a big-city newspaper, a position almost unprecedented in American history. The effect of the merger was "electric"...

By 1945, the Washington Times-Herald, with ten daily editions, was clearing an annual profit of more than $1 million.

Amanda Smith, in this huge, fascinating biography gives us the (infamous) life and monumental times of Cissy Patterson, scourge of liberals, advocate of appeasing Hitler, lover of poodles, and hater of FDR.

Here is her twentieth-century Washington: its politics and society, scandals and feuds, and at the center--the fierce newspaper wars that consumed and drove the country's press titans, as Patterson took the Washington Times-Herald from a chronic tail-ender in circulation and advertising, ranked fifth in the town, and made it into the most widely read round-the-clock daily in the national's capital, deemed by many to be "the damndest newspaper to ever hit the streets."


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Amanda Smith

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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.
 
Published September 6, 2011 by Knopf. 721 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Newspaper Titan

Kirkus Reviews

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The editor of Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy (2001) returns with a thick, assiduously researched biography of Eleanor Medill "Cissy" Patterson (1881-1948), the powerful, tendentious editor of the Washington Times-Herald.

Aug 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Newspaper Titan: The Infamous...

Publishers Weekly

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Drawing deeply on letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and family archives, Smith (Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy) captivatingly traces the rapid rise and quite sudden fall of a

Jul 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Newspaper Titan: The Infamous...

Publishers Weekly

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By the end of the 1930s, Patterson had also taken over the Washington Times, another Hearst paper, and by 1939 had merged them into the Washington Times-Herald, which with 10 editions daily cleared more than $1 million in profit yearly by 1945.

Jul 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Newspaper Titan: The Infamous...

The Washington Times

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During the 1940s, she was part of the “royal family of American journalism.” A descandent of abolitionistJoseph Medill, owner of the Chicago Tribune, sister of Joe Medill Patterson of the New York Daily News and cousin to Col.

Dec 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Newspaper Titan: The Infamous...

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

URA buys skinny building and its plumper neighbor AP: Defense Secretary Hagel to review controversial medal after congressional questions Steelers make offers to four restricted free agents Pittsburgh police accuse man in six Mount Washington ...

Sep 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Newspaper Titan: The Infamous...

City Book Review

Smith is able to clearly arrange the cultural and political landscape that surrounded Patterson and leaves no leaf unturned.

Apr 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Newspaper Titan: The Infamous...

Macleans

“When your grandmother gets raped, put it on the front page,” was the pugnacious if never observed motto—presumably the occasion never arose—of the Medill family, rulers of the Chicago Tribune newspaper empire.

Sep 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Newspaper Titan: The Infamous...

Washingtonian

“When your grandmother gets raped,” the Medills liked to say, “put it on the front page.” In a Washington still taking its seat on the world stage, Patterson employed that hard-nosed if tongue-in-cheek mantra to remarkable effect, restyling the Herald into a mix of fierce editorials (Patterson wa...

Nov 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Newspaper Titan: The Infamous...

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