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Personal History

by Katharine Graham

Publishers Weekly In 1963, Graham took over as publisher of the Washington Post as a classic grieving widow. Her husband, Phil, had shot himself at their country estate, defeated in a prolonged battle with manic depression. Since then, Graham's life has been an amazing ride as she "moved forward blindly and mindlessly into a new and unknown life" to become the tough chief executive who, during Watergate, looked the President of the United States in the eye and didn't blink. She ended up as chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Media company, whose possessions included newspapers, magazines and TV stations. She makes a vivid and persuasive case for why it was so daunting for a woman of her generation to become, in the eyes of many, the most powerful woman in America-a designation she hated. She took over the newspaper to preserve it for her children and came to love it as a publication and as a business. She now sees that her management skills were lacking (financier Warren Buffett gave her a crash course in acquisitions and became a major shareholder and close friend), but she has nothing but pride and pleasure in the newspaper that she led from obscurity to world renown. The first half of her story centers around life with Phil, the second on three pivotal events at the Post: the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate scandal and the prolonged pressman's strike of 1975. She lovingly attributes much of the Post's success to editor Benjamin C. Bradlee. Her narrative is at times uneven, swinging from passages that sound almost like "what I did last summer" to amazingly detailed insider accounts of moments of national crisis. Household names dot every page, woven in with the lives of her four children, one of whom, Donald, now runs both the paper and the company. Graham is frank but not gossipy, self-critical but not falsely modest. She presents her "personal history" with quiet courage and considerable wit. Photos. 200,000 first printing; Random House audio. (Feb.)

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Katharine Meyer Graham was a woman born into a world of wealth and privilege who raised four children, became involved in volunteer work, and ended as the head of a powerful newspaper. Graham's father, a wealthy entrepreneur, bought the struggling Washington Post in 1933. Although Katharine had worked as a journalist, it was her husband, Philip Graham, who was chosen to take over the paper from her father. This is the story of a newspaper's rise to power but also of the destruction of a marriage, as Philip Graham slid into alcohol, depression, and suicide, and of Katharine's rise as a powerful woman in her own right. Throughout this easy-to-read story, Graham writes about her personal life and the lives of others, ranging from presidents to household help, with sympathy and grace. Recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/96.]?Rebecca Wondriska, Trinity Coll. Lib., Hartford, Ct.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Not just the story of Graham's stewardship of the Washington Post, this "personal history" ranges from her favorite tennis partner (George Schultz) to her husband's fall into madness and suicide. A 200,000-copy first printing.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Katharine (with an a) Graham has led a very full life, and her personal history will be, most likely, very well received by the public, for through it, she manages to answer questions of enduring interest: How do the excessively rich live? How do the rich get rich? How do they stay that way? How does a young, rich woman become more than a woman with lots of time on her hands? She indirectly answers those questions by shaping her family's history with a view toward its stewardship of the Washington Post. Graham, born to multimillionaire Eugene Meyer, a Jew, and Agnes Ernst, an arrogant German, lived such a sheltered life that in college she had to be told how to wash a sweater. Like most men of her time, she did not know how to maintain her material possessions but was well schooled in mind and body (a professional tennis player lived with the family for a while). Beyond her upbringing, Graham manages a controlled but seemingly full discussion of the many sensational aspects of her life: the suicide of her husband, Phil Graham; her rise to publisher of The Post; the Pentagon Papers; Watergate; and the dreadful pressmen's strike, a dispute in which Graham prevailed. In this well-researched memoir, with a cast of fascinating people doing their cameo turns, including several presidents, the photographer Edward Steichen, Thomas Mann, Felix Frankfurter, Warren Buffet, and Ben Bradlee, Graham keeps the sets moving and makes everyone work for her. It is a well-examined life. --Bonnie Smothers

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Katharine (with an a) Graham has led a very full life, and her personal history will be, most likely, very well received by the public, for through it, she manages to answer questions of enduring interest: How do the excessively rich live? How do the rich get rich? How do they stay that way? How does a young, rich woman become more than a woman with lots of time on her hands? She indirectly answers those questions by shaping her family's history with a view toward its stewardship of the Washington Post. Graham, born to multimillionaire Eugene Meyer, a Jew, and Agnes Ernst, an arrogant German, lived such a sheltered life that in college she had to be told how to wash a sweater. Like most men of her time, she did not know how to maintain her material possessions but was well schooled in mind and body (a professional tennis player lived with the family for a while). Beyond her upbringing, Graham manages a controlled but seemingly full discussion of the many sensational aspects of her life: the suicide of her husband, Phil Graham; her rise to publisher of The Post; the Pentagon Papers; Watergate; and the dreadful pressmen's strike, a dispute in which Graham prevailed. In this well-researched memoir, with a cast of fascinating people doing their cameo turns, including several presidents, the photographer Edward Steichen, Thomas Mann, Felix Frankfurter, Warren Buffet, and Ben Bradlee, Graham keeps the sets moving and makes everyone work for her. It is a well-examined life. --Bonnie Smothers

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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