Wife Millicent Hearst and actress-inamorata Marion Davies also emerge with more complexity than in previous portraits like Orson Welles's Citizen Kane, whose factual inaccuracies Nasaw dissects. The author tempers the usual simplistic account of Hearst's political evolution from fire-breathing leftist to red-baiting conservative, calling him "a classic liberal" who believed in less-is-more government and deplored fascism as much as communism. Fresh insights and elegantly turned phrases abound in Nasaw's depiction of Hearst's activities as newspaper publisher, movie producer, and politician, but what's even more intriguing is the poignant personal drama of a man born "in the city of great expectations on the edge of the continent" who was buried 89 years later in San Francisco, "the place he used to know." --Wendy Smith
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William Randolph Hearst parlayed a family fortune built on silver mining into a media empire that spanned newspapers, magazines, movies, and more. Although devastated by the earthquake and fire of 1907, San Francisco kept its position as the West's leading city until overtaken by Los Angeles. The earliest papers in colonial times were single sheets, but newspapers developed into the primary mass local media before radio and television.