For forty years, this syndicated columnist and radio and television commentator called public officials to account and forced them to confront the facts. Pearson's daily column, published in more than 600 newspapers, and his weekly radio and television commentaries led to the censure of two US
senators, sent four members of the House to prison, and undermined numerous political careers. This is his biography.
... engrossing and revealing ... As Pearson’s biographer, [Ritchie] is judicious if mostly friendly. Along with delivering a richly anecdotal account of the life, he offers up a crowded playbill of insider Washington dramas. Pearson comes vividly alive as an opinionated man of intense moral force, entrepreneurial energy and sometimes questionable judgment. Mr. Ritchie’s research is impressive, drawing on Pearson’s private diaries and personal correspondence, copious public writings, and thousands of pages of files collected by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.
... thoroughly researched and ably crafted ... Ritchie relates almost all of this, but he seems to excuse it or at least strain to explain it. Part of that may stem from the unusual origins of this book, which, the author forthrightly tells us, grew from a friendship between him and his wife and Pearson’s stepson and daughter-in-law. From them he got not only encouragement to tell the Old Man’s story, but also access to the unpublished portions of his diaries and other papers, including the raw materials of his unwritten memoirs and the oral histories the stepson had produced.
... engaging ... Such details about Pearson’s personal affairs are peppered throughout the book, but Ritchie does not delve deeply into the columnist’s private or inner life. Even a shocker like Pearson’s admission (in a diary entry) that he slept with his former mother-in-law, Cissy Patterson, after his divorce — the woman who later became his patron, then his greatest antagonist in the capital — gets only a brief, offhand mention ... Still, Pearson’s professional travails provide plenty of drama.