: New: Book Report: Personal History

It's the autobiography of Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post during Watergate times (and other times) (and other roles at the paper at other times) (and other roles not at the paper).

I guess the reason that folks have been talking about this book lately is because during Watergate times, Nixon repeatedly lashed out at the press—and this turned out to be because he was trying to cover up his crimes. Nowadays, we again have a president who screams at the press… and again, he's looking more and more like a criminal hoping to discredit those who would report his crimes.

But that's not all that you get in this book. This book took a long time for me to read. Graham lived a long time, and spent much of that time around Important People. Her father headed up the Federal Reserve for a while and helped start up the World Bank. (She expresses regret that her father didn't teach her more about business, seeing as how she was later responsible for keeping the Post profitable… then again, her father was head of the Fed during Hoover's administration—yeah, that period of time in which we were failing to escape the Depression. So maybe he was more respected than excellent? Maybe? It's hard to tell. How objective do you expect a daughter to be about her father? Anyhow…) Each new chapter, there are new "characters" to learn, figures from that part of history. She doesn't take the time to give you background on all of them—thank goodness, or the book would have taken forever to write. But it means that I'd have to take a break from reading to remind myself who, e.g., Ron Ziegler was. (And you're thinking I'm sure Larry has read books that mentioned Ron Ziegler before. He should know who Ziegler was! and it turns out that I'd forgotten a bunch, and had to browse a lot of Wikipedia to catch the name-drops.)

We get to hear her side of a nasty labor dispute. It turns out that if you're striking, arson and battery might feel good in the short-term, but long-term it means that nobody wants you to come back to work: not your bosses but not your co-workers either. Uhm, yeah, anyhow, it got nasty.

Anyhow, you get more glimpse than you might expect of LBJ, various Kennedys, and Warren Buffet (back before folks had heard of Warren Buffet). A fun read but slow if you haven't memorized the Zieglers of our history and insist on reminding yourself.

Tags: book politics

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