Who was Joseph Pulitzer? A Novel
Pulitzer was a man who ended up in the United States on a fluke, coming here to fight in the Civil War in 1864 when he barely spoke English, having been raised near Budapest, Hungary. In working his way up from poverty Pulitzer was subjected to Antisemitism and did not feel at home in America as an immigrant, yet educated himself at the library while working menial jobs and succeeding in acquiring a licence to practice law. But it was in the newspaper business that he found his true calling, and eventually wrote stories to attract far greater circulation than did his contemporaries, who wrote only for the upper crust.
Pulitzer competed against some other fascinating personalities of the day, who Crimmins also brings to life in this dramatic slice of life drama. James Gordon Bennett ran the Herald via telegram from Paris after being kicked out of Manhattan high society; Charles Dana was so incensed by Pulitzer that he relentlessly wrote Antisemitic editorials against him; William Randolph Hearst copied Pulitzer’s sensationalist style and began the kind of news empire that dwarfed the competition. Crimmins shows us the open competition of these men in the public sphere that was far more open than what we see today.
Pulitzer’s personal life, unfortunately, was not the most ideal, and Crimmins gives the reader an inside view of the sorrows of Pulitzer’s beautiful wife Kate, who endured life as a newspaper widow while her husband worked fourteen hour days. Pulitzer’s physical constitution was not able to hold up under the Napoleonic demands he made upon it, and he had to overcome devastating physical trauma in the second half of his life.
The book is a tour de force of the life of the man who dramatically changed the Fourth Estate as we know it, an immigrant of empowered immigrants like himself to change the world in which they were so exploited.
Tom O’Malley has a life that would make many Americans jealous, as he just graduated from Georgetown University, and is a handsome young man with a beautiful girlfriend. One fateful day, however, while finishing his part time job as a Pizza deliverer, Tom makes a delivery to a place where a Muslim Terrorist is holding Americans hostage, and Tom, too, becomes a hostage.
Not only does he become a hostage, however, but a celebrity, as the terrorist takes him out onto the balcony in front of television cameras and introduces him to America in a not very complementary manner. Tom’s life is radically changed by this quirk of fate that makes him a pawn in a chess game of international relations. During his journey Tom finds out that the game is played by people who are far more powerful than he, and who don’t care in the least about whether he lives or dies.
Meet Andre, the Muslim terrorist who was actually born a Christian in West Beirut before he, too, was kidnapped. Meet Amado, a Spanish translator who grew up in Chile during the violent military coup de tat that overthrew Salvador Allende. Meet Amy, Tom’s girlfriend, who is deathly afraid that this unexpected adventure is going to change her lover forever. And meet drug dealers, media professionals and other fascinating characters, all of whom have a hand in determining Tom’s fate.
Join Tom in his perilous journey, where we view a terrorist network that is global in nature, making convenient alliances to promote their goals. This young man is confronted by very serious threats, and some of the people that he is dealing with are not who they seem to be.