Friday, September 2, 2011

The Magnificent Medills by Megan McKinney

The Magnificent Medills: America's Royal Family of Journalism During a Century of Turbulent Splendor The old saying that if you're rich, you're eccentric and if you're poor, you're insane, certainly applies to this large family. Joseph Medill, of Chicago Tribune famed spawned a magnificent family alright but nearly all of them were definitely eccentric. The fact that most of them died of cirrhosis of the liver from a lifetime of heavy drinking is just the beginning of their story.

Since this family was high society in Chicago, New York, and Washington, the reader learns interesting facts about other well known people of their time as well as tidbits that I would classify as gossip. One married Drew Pearson, for instance, so we get an entirely different look at his life than in other works.

Arguably the most influential in politics was Joseph Medill who was a founder of the Republican Party and was close to Abraham Lincoln. So close in fact that when Medill walked into his own office and found Lincoln sitting with his feet up on the desk, he yelled at him to get his feet off of it.

The Tribune was located in a "fireproof" building at the time of the great Chicago fire, and of course burned down. Afterward, Medill was mayor of that city. However, his two daughters were, though elegant and educated, known as "she-devils." They meddled incessantly in their children's lives until they died.

Perhaps the best known person in the family was Cissy Patterson, one of Joseph's granddaughters. She was a friend of Alice Roosevelt (Teddy's flamboyant daughter), the publisher of a Washington newspaper, and mixed with presidents, artists, and other famous people. Her love life was a scandal.

I could go on and on about this book and the Medill family. I found their story fascinating. I have a proof of the book so I'm anxious to see the finished product because I want to see the pictures that will be included. I highly recommend this one. (Source: Amazon Vine)


  1. I love reading these kinds of books, but I think the proof would be (almost) totally unsatisfactory because of no pictures!!!

  2. I enjoy reading stories like this one, especially if it's gossipy. Family dramas are always fun but when you know the drama, like this one, is true, that makes it even better.

  3. Ha!! Thanks for the comment -- yep, I'm reviewing for SA now.

  4. My mother grew up outside of Chicago, so I bet she would love this book!

  5. Thanks for commenting everyone. This is gossipy, Margot, very juicy tidbits. On the other hand, it's fascinating history that has been well researched by a journalist.

    Kathy, I'm curious where your mom grew up. I grew up in Springfield, IL and for a couple years in the 1980s Dave and I lived in Algonquin near Chicago. I love, love, love Chicago.

    Jill, I'm dying to see the pictures. Reading the proof was incomplete without them.

    Candace, Great news about you and SA.