"David Nasaw's biography of William Randolph Hearst is largely based on private and business papers and interviews that were unavailable to previous biographers. Newly released documentation of Hearst's interactions with Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, and every American president from Grover Cleveland to Franklin Roosevelt, as well as with movie giants Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, and Irving Thalberg, completes the picture of this colossal American. Nasaw's portrait also addresses Hearst's relationships, including those with his mistress in his Harvard days and for years after; with his wife, Millicent, the mother of his five sons; and with Marion Davies, his companion until death. Correspondence with the architect of Hearst's California estate, San Simeon, is augmented by taped interviews with the people who worked there and witnessed Hearst's extravagant entertaining, shedding light on the private life of a very public man."--BOOK JACKET.
It’s not that Hearst didn’t have his own brand of lunacy, But David Nasaw, without resorting to amateur psychoanalysis, points out some of the demons that haunted his subject and some possible motivations for his often self-destructive behavior.
After reading The Chief, I now want to go back to read the earlier biography by W.A. Swanberg, Citizen Hearst. Although Swanberg would have had interview access to Hearst’s contemporaries in the 1960s, I have a feeling that Nasaw’s research benefits from documents unavailable to Swanberg, and that this biography paints a more balanced picture of the man.
The Chief is a heavy tome – but I found myself looking forward spending time with it. I had read Going Out by David Nasaw and found some quirks in his writing that were a bit annoying. Either his writing has improved or he had a better editor for The Chief.