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The Ups and Downs of Katherine Graham
奋斗与坚持:报业女巨人的一生

It could safely be said of Katherine Graham that few women had a greater influence on 20th-century American history. When she died last year at the age of 84, people from all walks of life were swift and generous in their eulogies.

Long-time owner of the Washington Post, Graham was a female pioneer in the “man's world” of serious journalism. Her decision to publish the controversial Pentagon Papers in 1971 ensured that her name would always be linked to the ideals of press freedom.
Katherine Meyer was born in 1917 to a wealthy and privileged family. Her father was a multimillionaire who gave up business and government service to buy the ailing Washington Post in 1933. Katherine shared his love of journalism, and worked on the paper's editing desk for a few years before getting married.

Her husband, Phil Graham, was a bright young lawyer who took over at the Post in 1945. The couple became a popular part of the Washington social scene. Behind the facade, however, lay a different story. Phil was given to wild mood swings and abusive behavior that caused Katherine a great deal of mental anguish. He suffered from manic depression, which gradually got worse, culminating in his suicide when Katherine was 46. Suddenly, she found herself in control of the Post.

Despite her personal tragedy, Graham was determined to keep the Washington Post in the family, and took over the day-to-day running of the paper herself. Skeptics who had doubted her ability to make a success of it were dumbfounded as her enthusiasm and tenacity proved them wrong.

Graham was never afraid of making a courageous decision. Against the advice of the Post's lawyers, she sided with her editors and published the Pentagon Papers. The papers were top secret documents about the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War. She later remained steadfast in the face of government pressure not to pursue the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Graham handed over the control of the Post to her son in 1991, when she was 74 years old. By that time, she was often being described as the most powerful woman in America. Whether or not that was true, few would disagree with the assessment of one of her many admirers, that without her, Washington “would have been a much less civilized place.”

Avid readers who look to biography for inspiration could do worse than pick up a copy of Katherine Graham's Pulitzer Prize-winning “Personal History.” It is a rich chronicle of momentous events and the people that played their part in them. It is also the fascinating story of a person of character and values that many would like to emulate.


1. eulogy n. 颂词,悼词
2. pioneer n. 先锋,先驱
3. ailing a. 痛苦的,境况不佳
4. anguish n. 剧烈痛苦
5. dumbfounded a. 哑然的
6. steadfast a. 坚定的
7. assessment n. 评价
8. momentous a. 重大的
 

我们可以有把握地说,没有几个妇女像凯瑟琳·格拉罕对20世纪美国历史有这么大的影响的。去年她与世长辞,享年84岁,各界人士纷纷赶往悼念,表示敬意。

在由男性主导的严肃的新闻业中,《华盛顿邮报》的长期业主格拉罕是一位女性先驱。1971年,她决定出版备受争议的《五角大楼文件》。这就确定了她的名字会永远与出版自由的理想联系在一起。

凯瑟琳·迈耶1917年出生在一个富裕的特权家庭。她的父亲是一位大富豪,他放弃了工作和政府部门的职位,在1933年买下了境况不佳的《华盛顿邮报》。凯瑟琳承袭了父亲对新闻的热爱,婚前在这家报社的编辑部工作了数年。

她的丈夫菲尔·格拉罕曾是一位很出色的年轻律师,他1945年接管了华盛顿邮报。夫妇俩成为颇受华盛顿社交届欢迎的一对。然而,他们私下又是另外一种状况。菲尔喜怒无常的情绪变化和虐待行为带给凯瑟琳精神上巨大的痛苦。他深为躁狂抑郁症所苦,病情日渐恶化,最后在凯瑟琳46岁时自杀身亡。突然间,她感到管理邮报的责任落在了自己身上。

尽管个人的境遇悲惨,格拉罕仍决心要为家族保住《华盛顿邮报》,她接管了邮报每日的运作。当她以热忱和执着证明了那些曾怀疑她能力不足的人是错误的时候,他们都哑口无言。

格拉罕从来不怕果断地作决定。她不听从邮报律师们的劝告,而支持她手下的编辑们,发表了《五角大楼文件》,这些文件是有关美国卷入越战的最高机密文件。即使面临政府施加的压力,要她不要再追究后来迫使尼克松总统下台的水门事件,她始终立场坚定。

1991年,葛拉罕74岁时,将掌管邮报的权力移交给了她的儿子。那时,她常被形容为美国最有影响的女人。无论这种说法是否正确,相信多数人都会认同她众多仰慕者之一给予的评价:没有她,华盛顿“就会是远不如现在文明的地方”。

想从传记中获得启发的热忱读者,不妨选读凯瑟琳·格拉罕获得了普立策奖的《自传》。它是一部记载重大事件及参与其中的相关人物的内容丰富的编年史书。同时也是一部引人入胜的故事,人物的性格和价值观都是大家愿意仿效的。

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