Personal History

Graham, former publisher, president, and chairman of The Washington Post, is in many ways a paradigmatic woman of her generation. Born in the second decade of this century, she was raised — amid luxury — to be a good wife and mother, to do charitable work, and to sit at the foot of a gracious table. Circumstances, however, dictated otherwise. As the owner of the Post, which she inherited from her father, Eugene Meyer, and husband, Phil Graham, she presided over one of the nation’s greatest newspapers during the controversial publication of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal, and in doing so, became a lightning rod for both worship and hatred. Thanks to stories that labeled her ”the most powerful woman in America,” her legend grew until her own humanity and story got subsumed into the myth, so it is refreshing to find her debunking it here, in her autobiography, Personal History. On the verge of her eighth decade, she looks back with a clear and discerning eye, cataloging her weaknesses — the years of kowtowing to her husband, her extreme self-doubt upon taking over the paper, her social awkwardness — even more than her strengths, which are myriad and self-evident. She seems to deliberately present herself as an idol with feet of clay. In truth, it’s more like feet on the ground.

Personal History
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