Personal History by Katharine Graham


This non-fiction is written by a lady whose family purchased and owned the Washington Post. It’s an interesting read because it shows how culture changed in the last 70 or so years. People’s moral values were different. The way parents educate children were different. The status of women in the society was different. The one aspect that perhaps remained the same was the colorfully depicted personalities in the book. Like all well-written books, there are applications of the lessons learned by the characters in the book to one’s own life. Unfortunately i did not finish the book, but I look forward to the chapters around the watergate if I decide to pick it up again. 


  • Despite my father’s desire that the Post be independent and objective, someone remarked that the front page at first read like a Federal Reserve Board Bulletin. It seems that many of the editors and reporters were aiming to please by giving him what they thought he wanted.
  • Perhaps because of my conservative temperament, I slowly developed ideas that have remained fairly consistent throughout my life, with variations now and then. I believed— and believe— that capitalism works best for a freedom- loving society, that it brings more prosperity to more people than any other social- economic system, but that somehow we have to take care of people. These ideas converted me into an ardent Roosevelt advocate at that time and for all three of his re- election campaigns.
  • “What parents may sometimes do in a helpful way is to point out certain principles of action. I do not think I would be helpful in advising you too strongly. I do not even feel the need of doing that because I have so much confidence in your having really good judgment. I believe that what I can do for you once in a while is to point out certain principles that have developed in my mind as sound and practical, leaving it for you yourself to apply them if your own mind grasps and approves the principles.”
  • THREE THEMES dominated my own letters: the anguish of the impending war in Europe, my work, and my play. No matter how immersed I was in the latter two, it was hard to forget that so much hinged on events in Europe, even though Europe seemed much more remote from California than it had from the East Coast. I listened one morning to a speech by Hitler and wrote afterwards that “the broadcast sounded a little bit as though you had gotten the zoo by mistake— that rasping voice punctuated by roars that sounded like a pack of insane animals.”
  • I always wondered where Phil’s natural affinity for people in all walks of life came from. Perhaps it was growing up on the farm, or dropping out of college to drive the milk truck and relating to his customers as well as to the people on the farm. Wherever it came from, his ability to cut through formalities and talk to both men and women almost immediately in an intimate and connected way was an invaluable asset throughout his life.
  • Phil received the larger share of the stock because, as Dad explained to me, no man should be in the position of working for his wife. Curiously I not only concurred but was in complete accord with this idea.