Cover Image: Who was Joseph Pulitzer? A Novel

Who was Joseph Pulitzer? A Novel

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Member Reviews

This is a strange sort of hybrid book – part non-fiction biography and part fictionalised biography, and for me it didn’t come off at all successfully. The purely biographical sections were fine – Pulitzer was an interesting and influential man – but the fictionalised elements were really jarring and inauthentic. Mainly because of the invented and imagine conversations. The dialogue incorporated slang and 20th century expressions, and was very clunky. I’m not sure why the author did this – perhaps to appeal to a younger audience? To make the book more “sexy”? Unfortunately it just irritated me and I found the book unreadable as a consequence. Give me a straightforward non-fiction biography any day or a straightforward fictionalised one – but this attempt to marry the two failed in my opinion.
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Like most people  I have long been familiar with terms like Pulitzer prize winning book or Pulitzer prize winning author or journalist, however up to reading this book my knowledge regarding who the aforementioned Pulitzer was and what was his story was pretty minimal. To be honest the only time I had previously encountered him was reading a short biography about Nellie Bly, the American journalist known mainly for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, a venture sponsored and popularised by her employer, the Pulitzer owned New York World. 

Joseph Pulitzer is a rags to riches story that is at the heart of the industrial and commercial expansion of America following the Civil War. A Hungarian Jew, who would be subject to vile anti- Semitic attacks throughout his life, Pulitzer entered the USA after rather bizarrely joining the Union army in Frankfurt during the Civil War. After a time running a newspaper in St Louis where he constantly clashed with the corrupt establishment, he was more or less forced to flee, ending up in New York where he bought and turned around the then ailing  New York World for it to have a major role in the history of American newspapers and a leading voice of the Democratic Party. 

This is a fictionalised account of his life so a degree of caution should be exercised regarding the veracity of certain of the events and dialogue, but it does give readers, Pulitzer's full chronological biographical details. This is a fascinating look at the brutal newspaper wars of the time and the emergence of one time Pulitzer employee William Randolph Hearst  who would eventually become his chief rival and nemesis. If you think fake news is a recent thing then read this book. For a book that can be easily finished in a day there is a lot here that covers such topics as yellow journalism, how wealthy robber barons subjugated democracy , the press and politics and the rise of Theodore Roosevelt. A recommended read if you are interested in American history, politics or newspapers.
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The author did a brilliant job of capturing the time period in this novel.  The characters and plot were also well written.  This was a great piece of historical fiction!
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Excellent peek into the life and times of Joseph Pulitzer. No one is safe from the newspaperman’s microscope. Parallels to today’s “news” reporting stood out to me. Facts weren’t nearly as important as sales.
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