Picks and Pans Review: The Life and Death of the Press Barons

updated 05/30/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/30/1983 01:00AM

by Piers Brandon

From James Gordon Bennett Jr., who once visited the Paris edition office of his New York Herald wearing red pajamas and proceeded arbitrarily to fire everyone on the right side of the room, to Lord Beaverbrook, who enjoyed chatting about mistresses with Stalin over bottles of champagne, the great press lords of the last 150 years are an anecdotalist's dream. English nonfiction writer Brandon does more than tell eye-popping tales, though. In chapter-long biographies of leading American and British newspaper publishers—William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer are among them—he reveals how, with the ascent of faceless conglomerates, newspapers have lost their individualism. Not the least of Brandon's achievements is to cast a sympathetic light on the rapacious Rupert Murdoch, publisher of the Times of London and such sensation-mongering papers as the New York Post, who may be, for better or worse, the last of a colorful breed. (Atheneum, $14.95)

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