Cover image for The patriarch : the rise and fall of the Bingham dynasty
The patriarch : the rise and fall of the Bingham dynasty
Tifft, Susan E.
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Publication Information:
New York : Summit Books, [1991]

Physical Description:
574 pages ; 24 cm
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Format :


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CT274.B52 T54 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Tifft and Jones offer an evenhanded chronicle of a fascinating family feud that offsets the more subjective and sensationalized treatments of the Bingham clan. The authors trace the troubled history of a modern dynasty, unraveling the tangled pattern of duty, resentment, and pride that fostered dissension and fueled the painful public dissolution of the Bingham media empire. As their children wrested for power, money, and control, the senior Binghams unwisely and unrealistically attempted to distance themselves from the fray, virtually guaranteeing the collapse of their teetering conglomerate and the sale of the legendary Louisville Courier-Journal and Times. This impressively impartial account features neither villains nor victors, what ultimately emerges is a pathetic portrait of the gradual disintegration of loyalty, respect, and tradition among the willful members of a once-proud and much-admired family unit. The definitive examination of a contemporary American tragedy. Notes. ~--Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Each succeeding generation of the Bingham clan, Kentucky's self-styled ``First Family'' and owners of a progressive newspaper empire that crumbled in 1986, considered itself hexed by a dark family secret. When fabulously wealthy Mary Lily Flagler, wife of Robert Worth Bingham, died in 1917, rumors circulated that he had murdered her. But this enthralling, juicy, prodigiously researched saga presents compelling evidence that she died from cardiovascular syphilis--and that she knew she had the ailment when she married her cruelly unforgiving husband. Her stepson, ``patriarch'' Barry Bingham Sr., dominated the family with manipulative cunning while remaining emotionally aloof. Generally evenhanded in sorting out the claims of mutually antagonistic Bingham scions, this husband-wife author team (Tifft is a Time associate editor, Jones a New York Times reporter) offers withering portrayals of ``Baby Bear'' Barry Jr., who carried his ideals to ridiculous extremes, and of Sallie Bingham, limned as a highhanded, comically inept businesswoman whose self-proclaimed feminism overlays festering childhood wounds. Photos. Author tour. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This straightforward, balanced account details the buildup of a newspaper empire by the Binghams of Louisville, Kentucky, and the squabbling among family members that caused Barry Bingham Sr., the patriarch, to decide to sell it all. Tifft, an associate editor of Time magazine, and Jones, a New York Times reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Binghams, have done their homework, interviewing family members and others involved and consulting correspondence in various archives. Readers may wonder at first if they care about this rich family that fought so publicly, but they will soon discover that, in many ways, the Binghams are like us all. Sallie Bingham's Passion and Prejudice ( LJ 2/1/89) gives a more intimate and, of course, different view of the same story. Libraries that bought that one will want this one, too.-- Rebecca Wondriska, Trinity Coll. Lib., Hartford, Ct. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.