Monday, April 18, 2011

The Father of Modern Media. PULITZER: A LIFE IN POLITICS, PRINT, AND POWER by James McGrath Morris


Like Alfred Nobel, Joseph Pulitzer is better known today for the prize that bears his name than for his contribution to history. Yet, in 19th-century industrial America, while Carnegie provided the steel, Rockefeller the oil, Morgan the money, and Vanderbilt the railroads, Pulitzer ushered in the modern mass media.

In Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power, James McGrath Morris traces the epic story of this Jewish Hungarian immigrant's rise through American politics and into journalism where he accumulated immense power and wealth, only to fall blind and become a lonely, tormented recluse wandering the globe. But not before Pulitzer transformed American journalism into a medium of mass consumption and immense influence. As the first media baron to recognize the vast social changes of the industrial revolution, he harnessed all the converging elements of entertainment, technology, business, and demographics, and made the newspaper an essential feature of urban life. Pulitzer used his influence to advance a progressive political agenda and his power to fight those who opposed him. The course he followed led him to battle Theodore Roosevelt who, when President, tried to send Pulitzer to prison. The grueling legal battles Pulitzer endured for freedom of the press changed the landscape of American newspapers and politics.

Based on years of research and newly discovered documents, Pulitzer is a classic, magisterial biography and a gripping portrait of an American icon.

Praise for Pulitzer:

"An excellent book: a thorough, possibly definitive biography of the man who shaped the modern newspaper more than anyone else
being published at the precise moment when the modern newspaper is staring into the abyss. . . . There have been other biographies of Pulitzer, most notably W. A. Swanberg's published in 1967, but James McGrath Morris's is the best. It is authoritative, lucid and fair to its complicated subject."
Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

"Morris paints a vivid picture, portraying his subject as an ambitious, hotheaded, at times violent, often charitable man; a perfectionist, shrewd in matters of business yet cold in matters of the heart. . . . This well-researched, exhaustive biography reads like a novel, with fleshed-out characters ranging from William Randolph Hearst to John Gardarino, a penniless newsboy. It is the story of a man, but also of a time, when newsroom scores were sometimes settled with pistols, when anti-Semitism was the norm, when 'out-of-work politicians became newspaper editors, and successful editors became elected politicians.'"

New York Times Book Review

"A major biographical success. . . . A thrilling toboggan-ride tour of history. . . . Pulitzer presents a flood of diary entries, statistics, editorials, memoranda, and cables from its subject's many ocean voyages. In this cavalcade of American life and letters, the pages fly by."

San Francisco Chronicle

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