Women Writers Reading Challenge #16: Personal History by Katharine Graham


It’s hard to write about yourself. Examining yourself objectively isn’t easy, and to share your weaknesses as well as strengths with the world is even more difficult. However, this is the essential skill needed to write a good autobiography. Katharine Graham’s autobiography is perhaps the most frank and insightful of any I’ve read.

Born into wealth and privilege in Washington’s elite, Graham grew up with a strong sense of public duty and obligation from her mother, the political activist, and her father who, among other things, acquired The Washington Post. She talks about her marriage to the charismatic, intelligent, and ultimately self-destructive, Phil Graham. Her inheritance of the Post upon her husband’s death thrust her into the spotlight as one of the most powerful businesswomen in America at a time when women did not run large companies.

Her autobiography gives you an inside look into journalism, politics, Washington society, and the changing roles of women. The book is as powerful as the woman who wrote it and is a must read for anyone interested in the history of this famous newspaper, women in power, or the politics of the mid 1900s in the United States.

I also view finishing this book as a personal accomplishment, as I’ve been reading it on and off for about four years now. It was definitely worth the commitment.

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