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In All His Glory: The Life of William S. Paley : The Legendary Tycoon and His Brilliant Circle [Hardcover]

Sally Bedell Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 1990
William Paley's genius built the CBS television network into a $4.7 billion empire. Former New York Times media reporter Sally Smith reveals--inside and out--the life of a man who has influenced millions of Americans.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Nov 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671617354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671617356
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 17 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,226,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended. 21 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I chose this rating because I was interested in the biography of the subject as well as a history of the early development of radio & television. This is an informative & enjoyable read about both, as well as an interesting window on those times in The United States.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography 14 May 2012
By S. Rosa
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
To anyone interested in the history of American business and society in the twentieth century this book is a MUST read. Not only is the life and character of William S Paley covered in depth but the reader is given a full understanding of what it was like to be in his company, and what America was like during his lifetime. I bought the book to find out more about Babe Paley but I should have known that any book written by Sally Bedell Smith would be well researched, well written and unlike many authoritative books, a 'page turner'. Unputdownable. The title sums up my review. Mr Paley - in all his glory. A glorious life, lived to the full, a huge cast of celebrities, a wonderful subject for a biography. One of those books that live with you, and you are sorry when they end.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Man With All The Toys 2 April 2007
By Bill Slocum - Published on Amazon.com
There was little in life William Paley wanted and didn't get, with the notable exception of a laudatory and readable biography. Sally Bedell Smith performed half that service with "In All His Glory," published the same year Paley died (1990); you will be hard-pressed to find as juicy a book on a hundred more engaging personalities.

Paley built a radio-television empire with CBS, "the Tiffany Network" known for its much-touted commitment to quality broadcasting. While acquiring markets and talents was Paley's contribution to CBS's glory, it was secondary by Bedell Smith's reckoning to his more material passions for lucre, women, and fame. He got most of what he wanted, but as we watch him on his deathbed, it's hard not to feel a Calvinistic twinge of regret for his limited vision.

"Bill Paley wanted every last minute from life," Bedell Smith writes.

It's about the most positive thing she has to say about Paley, who otherwise doesn't come off either as visionary or a leader. He failed to see the promise of innovations like television, color television, and the long-playing record, and had to be coaxed to letting his subordinates take up these and other ideas for building his empire. Then when they achieved success, Paley swooped in and took credit. "The convenient amnesia of the powerful," Bedell Smith calls it.

Where Paley excelled was in the art of interpersonal relations, which contributed to some major deals for CBS and very few lonely evenings for Paley himself, even if his wives couldn't say the same.

Bedell Smith writes an engaging story about Paley's years at CBS, but it is in recounting his social life where the book excels. Paley was born Jewish, and spent the rest of his life trying to pretend otherwise. Even as other Jews formed their own high-level Manhattan social circle, "Our Crowd, " Paley preferred to court the Mayflower set, a fast-dying clique of Long Island dinosaurs who imagined themselves better than the rest of mankind for the money they inherited.

One British noblewoman who ran with this set described Paley as "100 percent Jew but looking more like good news from Tartary," nicely encapsulating the jaded, facile, anti-Semitic waters Paley willingly navigated.

Readers looking for more of a history of CBS may be vaguely disappointed. Paley was seen as an "absentee landlord" by network insiders, leaning on Frank Stanton and other executives to run the shop while he globetrotted. Bedell Smith leaves the trail of the network for many long chapters at a stretch, to focus on Paley's marriages and affairs.

The problem with this shows with her loving depiction of wife number two, Babe Cushing, a glamorous clotheshorse. Bedell Smith describes Babe's look and surroundings in overrich detail, at one point itemizing the contents of her closets for half a page. Bedell Smith obviously treasures Babe more than Paley himself ever did, an imbalance that threatens to lose the reader from time to time.

But Babe is an interesting mirror to view Paley from, an empire builder in her own right who left nothing in the way of a legacy but gaudy baubles and mixed memories about what it all meant. As she lay dying of cancer, an unnamed intimate tells Bedell Smith: "She had not a glimmer of having a soul." It's a comment with more than religious meaning.

For Paley, too, the world was all there was, and immortality something only worth having if he was around to enjoy it. He built an empire, only to hang on too long and preside over its crumbling, even facilitate it when his hand-picked successor failed to show him the proper deference. Ephemerality is the nature of mass media, and in that way at least, Paley proved its perfect embodiment.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Upclose Look at Media Giant 26 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book has been out for as long as it has, and no reviews? It's been about five or six years since I've read it, but this volume is a must-read for anyone considering a career in broadcasting, or if you're interested in the building of a corporate empire.
The book takes us from Paley's somewhat well-to-do background and takes us, in all his glory, (which the book's author uses sarcastically), from cigar maker to the head of one of the most powerful corporations in American history, what used to be CBS, Inc.
The book doesn't necessarily portray Paley as a sympathetic character, but more of a small man who made it big. There's a heavy emphasis on the warts of the man, which may be somewhat understandable, since prior to this book's release, he was always presented as a man to be totally revered. But here he's portrayed as someone who likes to take credit for other's doings, as someone who plays petty head games with people such as Frank Stanton, and uses his on-air talent (Ed Murrow, for one) while it's convenient, and then when they're of no use to him anymore, casts them aside.
Despite the type of man Paley is presented as, this book is a very good chronicle of his career, which means it also is one of the definitive books on the creation of CBS. No matter what his personal flaws were, this is a man who did the impossible by challenging NBC to create the even more successful CBS radio network and then dominated television for roughly 20 years. The building of that empire with the "talent raids" of Amos 'n' Andy, Jack Benny, and others is vital reading for anyone who is in the broadcasting industry. What's even more essential, however, is watching the ideas and motivations that took the Columbia Broadcasting System to CBS, Inc, and how it lost focus as it became a corporate behemoth.
Paley's death came several years before Westinghouse, and then Viacom, would acquire CBS, and having read this book, you can only imagine what he would have thought about how that played out.
One final note, while the book is lengthy, it's a breeze-through read. Once you get started, you won't put it down.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough Inspection of a Fascinating Man 16 Aug 2003
By HeyJudy - Published on Amazon.com
Author Sally Bedell Smith does her typically excellent job with IN ALL HIS GLORY, her biography of William Paley. Smith is known for her scholarship and her research, and it shows in this book.
Like many self-made successful people, Paley led an interesting life. Smith chronicles his original involvement with the nascent television industry as his interest grew into the empire he built surrounding CBS.
This is an important book for anyone interested in the development of that industry. As well, it is a fascinating peek into Paley's life. Here was a man who moved from the ghetto life of a child of 19th century European immigrants to becoming one of America's power elite. Once he was rich, he lived his life accordingly.
His journey makes for fascinating reading.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bill Paley the Mogul 22 Dec 2011
By Mike B - Published on Amazon.com
This is a long (at slightly over 600 pages), but very readable expose of the life of CBS mogul William S. Paley. As the author states at the outset he was a very complicated man filled with contradictions.

We follow him as he raised CBS to be a nationwide radio enterprise and then make the transition to TV. In this Paley was less innovator and much more a juggling entrepreneur - listening too and balancing several ideas before finally taking the plunge. Inevitably, much to the annoyance of his business associates, he would usually take the credit for the success of various operations which were initiated by others. And woe to those who were even mildly involved in a less than successful business activity. Even if Paley was warned beforehand of the dubious nature of the project, he would search for, and blame, the necessary scapegoats.

Reading through the book can be at times like an episode of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" with lists of jewellery, furniture and other luxurious items. There is much in this book on Paley's two wives, both of whom were entirely different. Frank Stanton, who was a dedicated President of CBS for over 25 years, was treated callously by Paley. The same could be said for William L. Shirer. Edward Murrow and Paley were great friends for a time, but this relationship too crumbled. Nothing lasted forever with Paley. He comes off as self-centered - unable to share the limelight with anyone. He was a collector - of enterprises, money, women and art. At the end of the book it was very hard to find the emotional heart of the man.

There are some things missing in this book. Paley's parents disappear from view once he is married to his first wife. We have no idea how they related with his first and second wife, or with their grand children.

There is nothing on how CBS coped with the civil rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's. Nothing on the woman's movement and how this affected television. And very little on the Vietnam War, which was central to American living rooms during the era. The Smothers Brothers show was cancelled by CBS due to its controversial nature, but this is also not broached.

However, the portrait of Bill Paley "the man" and those surrounding him during his long life is incomparable and complete. Paley died at the time this book was published in October 1990.

A favourite quote from page 579 (my edition): "The stealthiest assassin was, of course, Bill Paley, who always kept a silencer on his weapon." You just never knew how, where and when Paley would come at you!
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read 30 Aug 2013
By David M. Lubert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A insightful.read into William Paley. I enjoyed this book after reading Cronkite book by Brinkley. Paley was an interesting man with many flaws and certainly owed much to many yet remained to the end quite selfish .
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