Business

Growing up in a family with many members who earned their livings on Wall Street and with many ancestors and relatives who had done the same, I—as might be expected—very early heard stories of business that I found as fascinating as the tales of military action I was soaking up at the same time. The novelist Thomas Hardy explained that “war makes rattling good history,” but it was James Gordon Bennett, the founder of the New York Herald, who explained why business makes the same.Read more »

The Forty-year Run

In 1935 Fortune magazine published a profile of the Hearst empire, which said that William Randolph Hearst’s assets—twenty-eight newspapers, thirteen magazines, eight radio stations, two movie companies, inestimable art treasures, real estate, fourteen thousand shares of the Homestake Mine, and two million acres of land were worth $220 million. Read more »

“Dear Beatrice Fairfax…“

America’s first Miss Lonely hearts advised generations of anxious lovers in the newspaper column that started it all

Miss Beatrice Fairfax: Read more »

Hearst’s Little Time Bomb

In novels, movies, and television melodramas, money and power often are treated as if they were two sides of a single coin. In life, they are different currencies, and the effort to convert one into the other has produced some amazing tangles. I know of no better example than an all-but-forgotten scandal that involved a man who could buy everything he ever wanted —except the power that he wanted more than anything. Read more »

Dirty-faced David & The Twin Goliaths

One of the country’ more bizzarre labor disputes pitted a crowed of outraged newsboys against two powerful opponents—Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolf Hearst

Joseph Pulitzer, nearly blind, suffering from bouts of depression, and so sensitive to sound he exploded when the silverware was rattled, managed his newspapers in absentia for the last twenty years of his life.Read more »

Faking It

If the facts were dull, the story didn’t get printed. So reporters made up the facts. It’s only recently that newspapers have even tried to tell the truth .

In the winter of 1894-95, Theodore Dreiser was a new reporter on the New York World , and things were going badly. One assignment after another fizzled. Dispatched by the city editor to Elizabeth, New Jersey, to follow up a tale of a graveyard apparition, the gangling twenty-three-year-old returned empty-handed: the cemetery caretaker insisted that the dead man supposedly involved was not even buried there.Read more »

Krazy Kat A Love Story

There’s a corner of every Americans heart that is reserved for a cartoon cat. Its name might be Garfield, Sylvester, Fritz, or Felix. But there will never be another Krazy.

In 1938, at the age of nine, I discovered one of life’s cruelest ironies: the best comic strips invariably appear in the worst newspapers. Since Hearst’s Evening Journal-American was, according to my mother, the worst “fascist rag” in New York, it was inevitable that Popeye, Maggie and Jiggs, and Krazy Kat would be locked up in its pages. With the Journal banned at home, my glimpses of Krazy were destined to be fleeting.Read more »

Yankee Tarzan

WHEN JOSEPH KNOWLES STRIPPED TO THE BUFF AND SLIPPED INTO THE MAINE WOODS IN 1913, HE HOPED TO LEAD THE NATION BACK TO NATURE.

It was raining. A forty-four-year-old man named Joseph Knowles gingerly entered an old logging road in the Dead River country of Maine. He was nearly naked and carried no tools, weapons, or equipment of any sort, not even a bottle of mosquito repellent. Read more »

William Randolph Hearst’s Monastery

He could build castles at his whim, but the ancient home of a small band of monks defeated him

During the early summer of the year 1213 Saint Martin of Finojosa was an old man and not in the best of health. Nevertheless, at the age of seventy-three the saintly bishop and abbot left his beloved Burgos for a long and taxing trip to visit a tiny new monastery on a hilltop near the Tagus River. Like all Cistercian monasteries, it was named for the Virgin Mary—in this case, Santa Maria de Ovila. Read more »

Satan’s Lexicographer

“The world is my country, to hate rascals is my religion” he once said, and for more than forty years—before he mysteriously vanished—he blasted away at the delusions, pretentions, posturings, hopes, dreams, foibles, and institutions of all mankind. His name was Ambrose Bierce …

If Ambrose Bierce, America’s first exponent of black humor, crudest epigrammist, and most terrifying teller of horror tales, is now finally coming into his own, it is because thinking Americans are finally recognizing the relevance of his vision—that America is not the Peaceable Kingdom and its citizens are no less aggressive, fearful, pretentious, and greedy than all other members of the human race. Read more »