‘George Hearst’ Review: A Complex Man With His Share of Human Flaws


George Hearst: Silver King of the Gilded Age, by Matthew Bernstein, College of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2021, $55

Individuals who do acknowledge his identify possible recall George Hearst as the daddy of notorious newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, in no small half as a result of Orson Welles associated the youthful Hearst’s quasi-biographical story within the 1941 drama Citizen Kane. However father Hearst was himself a self-made, larger-than-life determine who, as writer Matthew Bernstein notes on this first-rate biography, “crammed the invoice because the quintessential American prospector, filled with piss and vinegar and with a nostril for gold.”

Within the twenty first century Hearst additionally claimed a share of movie fame, as a personality within the HBO collection Deadwood—however not the type of consideration he would have needed. As portrayed by Gerald McRaney, George was a vicious sociopath who would cease at nothing to achieve management of the most important gold mine within the Black Hills. The true Hearst was hardly bloodthirsty, although he did make a killing in Deadwood. Certainly, he very cleverly gained management of the precious Homestake Mine by first shutting it down to provide the misunderstanding it was a bust. “Hearst,” writes Bernstein, “demonstrated for good and all that within the nice sport of pay grime he was second to none.”

The Missouri-born Hearst ventured west from his native state in 1850 to hitch the California Gold Rush and had little preliminary luck at placer mining and finding quartz veins, incomes him the nickname “Quartz George.” In 1859, nevertheless, he hit it large silver mining in what was then western Utah Territory however would develop into Nevada’s Comstock Lode. “I obtained to the Comstock and in six months made half one million {dollars},” he bragged. He later mined silver within the Powerful Nut Lode exterior Tombstone, Arizona Territory, owned the affluent Ontario Mine close to Salt Lake Metropolis and operated the Anaconda Mine in Montana Territory. He was a risk-taker in an countless quest to extend his holdings, and he didn’t restrict himself to mining. He engaged in cattle ranching in California, New Mexico and Mexico, owned a thoroughbred horse racing steady and entered the political area with blended success. In 1882 he ran unsuccessfully because the Democratic candidate for governor of California however twice served as a U.S. senator (appointed the primary time to fill a emptiness because of a dying, however elected the second time, serving from March 4, 1887, till his personal dying at age 70 on Feb. 28, 1891, in Washington, D.C.).

Whereas making and shedding fortunes after which making them once more, Hearst was completely happy to put on worn garments and eat unpretentious meals, though his a lot youthful spouse, Phoebe, appreciated to provide events, reside in model and journey the world with their beloved and considerably rambunctious son, William Randolph, who in 1887 would take over administration of his father’s newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner.

Whereas Phoebe championed such progressive notions as ladies’s rights and schooling reform, George had a report of voting towards emancipation, Chinese language emigration and ladies’s suffrage. “Such lethargic beliefs stemming from an energetic thoughts are comprehensible when one considers that Hearst’s focus had been primarily in buying capital, not in spending it,” the writer suggests. “He would depart that a part of the Hearst saga to his spouse and son.”

One factor is obvious from this first-full-length biography of George Hearst, the person had his share of human flaws and was advanced. He actually had the vitality to maintain pushing to succeed. Bernstein does his analysis and writes nicely, though a reader may need hassle attempting to maintain observe of George’s wheeling and dealing throughout the American West. The writer is an everyday contributor to Wild West, and he tailored sections of the ebook for the function articles “Homicide within the Black Hills” (December 2018) and “The Playwright Who Captured Geronimo” (December 2019).

Silver King of the Gilded Age

By Matthew Bernstein

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