Literature of American History II

Prof. KC Johnson




Alan Strauber


Study questions for David Nasaw, The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000).


1)       What was David Nasawís purpose in writing about William Randolph Hearst? Did he achieve his purpose?


2)       Do you think that Hearst was a conflicted personality? If so, in what ways?


3)       How did George Hearst, W.R.ís father, make his fortune?


4)       What did W.R. Hearstís mother recall was his ďforteĒ? (12)


5)       How does Nasaw characterize Hearstís childhood and its effect on his adult life?


6)       In what ways might Hearst represent a ďspirit of the westĒ?


7)       Who or what was ďRosebudĒ?


8)       Initially, what newspaper did Hearst use as a model for the San Francisco Examiner?


9)       Can Hearst be considered a self-made man?


10)   What 2 New York City newspapers did Hearst purchase simultaneously?


11)   What were Hearstís strategies for beating the newspaper competition in New York?


12)   What presidential candidate did Hearst use his newspapers to support in the presidential campaign of 1896?


13)   What effect, if any, did his activities in this campaign have upon the influence of the Hearst newspapers?


14)   During approximately the first half of his life, what was Hearstís ultimate personal political goal?


15)   What was the third city where Hearst intended to own a newspaper and why?


16)   What president did a Hearst columnist claim deserved assassination, only to have his suggestion come to fruition?


17)   What national politicianís support base did Hearst plan to build his own political support base from?


18)   How did Hearst see his relationship to the working class?


19)   What was the decisive blow to Hearstís 1904 presidential campaign? (181)


20)   During his second term in congress, what legislation did Hearst introduce? How successful was he as a legislator?


21)   Why did some consider Hearst to be a traitor to his class?


22)   What was the first magazine that Hearst purchased? (190)


23)   What effect did Hearstís 1905 mayoral campaign have on his public persona, according to Nasaw? (200 Ė 201)


24)   What did Hearstís political campaigns say about the politics of his time?


25)   Why did Upton Sinclair compare Hearst to Abraham Lincoln? (207)


26)   Do you think that Nasaw romanticizes Hearst or places undue emphasis on his Hollywood activities?


27)   Why did Theodore Roosevelt remark that Hearst ďis the most potent single influence for evil we have in our life?Ē (210-211)


28)   After a number of campaigns for state and national offices, why do you think that Hearst failed to win any of them?


29)   What was Hearstís I.N.S.?


30)   How did Hearst propose to stop WWI while still in its infancy? (242)


31)   What was the significance of the film serial, Patria?


32)   How did Hearst acquire artwork and furnishings for his house at San Simeon?


33)   How do you reconcile Hearstís rise to national, even international, influence with the fact that he was constantly in debt?


34)   Do you find Nasawís descriptions of Hearstís financial situation adequate?


35)   What was the first direct evidence that Hearstís wife, Millicent, knew that Marion Davies was her husbandís mistress, according to Nasaw?


36)   How would you describe Hearstís relationship with the Republican Harding administration, particularly Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon? (320 Ė 321)


37)   How did Hearstís building and spending spree of the 1920ís reflect the economy and social trends in the U.S. during this period?


38)   Who did Hearst support in the presidential campaign of 1928 and why?


39)   What was Hearstís position concerning the World Court and why?


40)   What was Marion Daviesí first response upon hearing Al Jolsonís voice in a ďtalkieĒ?


41)   How was Hearstís fortune affected by the stock market crash of 1929?


42)   What made the Hearst newspapers different than other newspapers?



43)   As the Depression developed, what were Hearstís overall sentiments towards President Hoover and his approach towards dealing with the faltering economy?


44)   For what presidential candidate did Hearst release pivotal convention votes to assure a Democratic party nomination?


45)   What was the initial reason that Adolph Hitler, the columnist, fell out of favor with Hearst?

How did his sentiments towards Hitler change if at all?


46)   What was the evolution of Hearstís view of FDR and his policies?


47)   What world event does Nasaw claim caused the rejuvenation of Hearstís finances?