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Publisher's Summary

The captivating inside story of the woman who helmed the Washington Post during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of American media.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography

In this best-selling and widely acclaimed memoir, Katharine Graham, the woman who piloted the Washington Post through the scandals of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, tells her story - one that is extraordinary both for the events it encompasses and for the courage, candor, and dignity of its telling.

Here is the awkward child who grew up amid material wealth and emotional isolation; the young bride who watched her brilliant, charismatic husband - a confidant to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson - plunge into the mental illness that would culminate in his suicide. And here is the widow who shook off her grief and insecurity to take on a president and a pressman’s union as she entered the profane boys’ club of the newspaper business. 

As timely now as ever, Personal History is an exemplary record of our history and of the woman who played such a shaping role within them, discovering her own strength and sense of self as she confronted - and mastered - the personal and professional crises of her fascinating life.

©2017 Katharine Graham (P)2017 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Personal History

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A Life Told with Honesty, Humility, and Humor.

I have been curious about this book for years, and decided to listen to it when I learned that the film about The Pentagon Papers would soon be released, with Meryl Streep in the role of Katharine Graham. I'm glad that I learned more about this impressive woman, who was born into wealth and knew famous people all over the world, but who never came across as a snob. She seemed like a person who was truly interested in other people and deeply valued her relationships, both personal and professional. I appreciated learning about the strong values of her father, who started The Post, and how Ms. Graham carried those forward with years of hard work. She was very honest and open about her insecurities as a woman and wife, balancing her personal and work life, her husband's bipolar illness, and the struggles of being a woman in what was then a man's field. The ways she was stereotyped, vilified, and held to a double standard reminded me strongly of what Hillary Clinton has endured. This was a history lesson, particularly about the earlier days of the publishing business and how it developed as technology changed. I enjoyed hearing about the behind-the-scenes unfolding of the Pentagon Papers publication and Watergate. It turns out that she played a much larger role in deciding about the coverage of these events than was portrayed in All the President's Men. Although this was a lengthy audiobook, it kept my interest throughout. The narrator's voice is appealing, and was perfect for this book. I was dismayed, however, at a few mispronunciations, though this was not overly distracting. I hope that younger women will listen to this book in order to gain a greater appreciation of what woman in previous generations had to deal with in the workplace, though I believe that this book has appeal for a wide audience.

31 people found this helpful

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  • 03-18-18

Thoroughly enjoyable listening

K's family's wealth is hard to imagine. Reading this in 2018 made me wince many times a her own stereotypical comments about women, even though she is fully aware of the unfairness of stereotypes. I also believe Martin Luther king is only mentioned once in one sentence. How she could not spend more time on the civil rights revolution that occurred during her time is very telling about her exposure to the community of Washington DC in which she lived. She was a highly out of touch elitist, but she did have an interesting story to tell.

4 people found this helpful

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Loved the first half, could not finish it

At first I enjoyed the amazing detail in the book, but it became excruciating by the time I was half through. She will not only tell you that she went to lunch on a particular date and a particular place, but also what time she arrived, how she got there, who else attended (including who they were married to and for how long), were any of them late (and why), what did they eat... Eeks. Too much information.

The editor needed to be much more aggressive on this one.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing life story

Catherine Graham has an incredible story to be shared with all women from all walks of life she is such a shining example of how we can continue to persevere through fighting for women’s rights

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Well read fascinating story of a life well lead.

The span of years and experiences kept me listening. lots of detail, but not uninteresting. So very glad Kaye Graham exists and wrote about her life.

3 people found this helpful

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The literary trifecta

This book is phenomenal. I believe that I have found the inspiration for Forrest Gump. Born into very serious privilege, Katherine Graham's introspective autobiography spans the Gilded age to the 1980s, from her parents' childhoods, to how they met, to her childhood, marriage, and life beyond marriage and kids. Besides a jaw-dropping list of family friends ranging from Rodin to Kissinger (and all presidents between Roosevelt and Carter) and Rodin to Curie, Ms. Graham occupied a rarified strata where she didn't know how to fold her clothes in college "because that was always done for me." Despite her incredible privilege, Ms. Graham was a hard-working and earnest person who engaged in her marriage and motherhood enthusiastically, if not, according to her, somewhat less than completely adeptly. Her story is one of a woman born in the early 1900s, widowed in the 1960s and heading up an F500 company, her family's paper the Washington Post, at a time where she was the only female in the boardroom. Kind of ever. She relates interesting anecdotes about her insecurities in running a company, particularly in an age where women were encouraged to stay and home and raise children. In her memoir is a compelling story of a woman persisting in a man's world, relying upon her sensibilities and succeeding despite her propensity to "burst into tears" when confronted with aggressiveness or bad news. I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written and engaging memoir for its historical perspective, its insight into privilege and its trajectory of a very impressive person who was also a woman. I highly, highly recommend this book - it is readable, entertaining and edifying - the trifecta of an excellent book.

2 people found this helpful

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Great but without perspective

Amazing woman, amazing book. Her complete ignorance of her entitlement in various passages is really painful to listen to. Things like taking hours to prepare for a party for president when there was a whole team of people who are actually doing all the work. Still the description of those years of politics and some of the amazing things she accomplished are worthy a lot of respect and she’s a lot more honest about her mistakes than any man would ever be.

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Not the book I intended to buy and not returnable

There are two books of personal history. I intended to buy the other one. This is not returnable in the purchase history. Be careful.

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Terrible

Pretentious, snobbish, boring. One sided,masked versions of her story and experiences. Waste of 30 hours of my life. I couldn’t finish it.

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A Lady of Honor

Spoiler Alert: Excellent writing about an amazing life! Katharine was a torch bearer for women. She faced her husband’s suicide with such courage, and she went on to lead The Post with God-given talent and humility. She never stopped learning. I would have loved to have her as a friend.

1 person found this helpful