Who was Joseph Pulitzer? A Novel

Terrence Crimmins

Book Cover

GENRE

ADVENTURE EPIC DRAMA BIOGRAPHICAL

    Core Theme

    RISE TO GLORY

    TIME PERIOD

    19th Century,Earlier 20th Century

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    THE POST, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

    CHARACTER LIST

    • JOSEPH PULITZER: STARTING AT 18 M, INTELLIGENT HUNGARIAN, JEWISH, INVESTIGATIVE, DETERMINED, PASSIONATE

    • DAVIDSON AND SCHURZ: 30S M -- PROTAGONIST'S MENTORS, UNDERSTANDING, INSIGHTFUL

    • HEARST: CHIEF OF THE JOURNAL NEWSPAPER, VINDICTIVE, CLEVER, SON OF EXTREME WEALTH

    • DANA: CHIEF OF THE SUN NEWSPAPER, CUNNING, HUNGRY, HARD-WORKING

    Logline

    Immigrant overcomes poverty and Antisemitism to change newspapers and confront the powers that be of the Gilded Age.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    St. Louis, New York City

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Amazon

    Year Published: 2016

    Starting Description

    Pulitzer, a recent Hungarian immigrant and newspaper reporter, suffers Antisemitism from his colleagues on the way to a meeting with a significant confrontation with one of his enemies.

    Ending Description

    Pulitzer's death represents the passing of a man who had made himself a giant in the history of American journalism, as a man who rose from nothing to revolutionize the structure of newspapers across the globe.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    B01JDLHDY2

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,,Meaningful Message

    Plot - Premise

    Rags to Riches,,Overcoming Monster/Villain,Quest

    Main Character Details

    Name: Joseph Pulitzer was a Hungarian immigrant who was a workaholic who was the first major journalist to push the progressive agenda, and assault the injustices of the Gilded Age.

    Age: 35

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous, Aggressive, Aspiring, Visionary, Educated, Leader, Lone Wolf, Outspoken,Aspiring,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Flexible,Educated,Leader,Lone Wolf,Sophisticated,Secretive,Sarcastic,Visionary,Power Hungry

    Additional Character Details

    Name: William Randolph Hearst- creator of a news empire

    Age: 35

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Aspiring, Complex, Confident, Extraordinary Powers and Abilities, Flexible, Leader, Aggressive,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Leader,Sophisticated,Visionary,Power Hungry,Blunt

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Kate Pulitzer- Pulitzer's wife

    Age: 35

    Gender: Female

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Empathetic, Faithful, Beautiful, Charming,Aspiring,Complex,Faithful,Gracious,Seductive,Modest

    Additional Character Details

    Name: James Gordon Bennett- editor and owner of The Herald

    Age: 35

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous, Aggressive, Aspiring, Badass

    Development Pitch

    Joseph Pulitzer, famous to most all Americans because of the prizes, is an excellent choice for this character study of a man who is a towering figure in the history of American journalism. His almost impossible transition from a dirt poor immigrant to newspaper magnate shows him overcoming poverty and Antisemitism in fighting the gross injustices of the Gilded Age. He was not without personal problems, as his Napoleonic addiction to work made his charming wife a newspaper widow, and his twelve hour work days eventually led to health problems that crippled his ability to work. He overcame this, too, as best he could, and continued to dominate the newspaper coverage to mass audiences that his competitors had not previously considered to be even a possibility.

    Genre

    SUSPENSE, DRAMA, POLITICS, WAR, RELIGION

    Brief

    Hungarian Joseph Pulitzer arrives in America hoping to fight and make a name for himself in Civil War New York. Instead he builds a career as a journalist and voracious reader. It brings him to the height of newspaper readership, and in the end, even when his health is gone, he still fights tooth and nail against the President of the United States in the Supreme Court.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: EXCELLENT

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The book Profile is accurate. There is no information for Mature Themes, for which there are none.

    Draw of Story

    The rags to riches story is always appealing. There is a strong sense of self-preservation in Pulitzer's life as an English learner turned literary magnet. It is impressive that a man can ascend so high in light of all the barriers stopping him--from his Jewish Hungarian heritage to his newfound grasp of English and American philosophy.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The book's relationships feel well-fleshed out in the context of historical accuracy, but they are not a big narrative driver. Pulitzer alone is the interesting case study, and his next best support is the minor character Nellie Bly. As much as this story focuses on Pulitzer's own draw for sensationalist stories, it reigns much of that drama in among its own chapters. There is a lot to be said about the rivalries, which are definitely the meat of the story, but it felt that by the end, with Dana out of the way, and Hearst all but having won the newspaper war, that Pulitzer ran out of gas. For an adaptation, it would be good to make note of how that happened, and use the Supreme Court case with Pres. Roosevelt as a backdrop rather than the main focus of the third act.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    A Jewish immigrant with little grasp of the English language becomes the head of the largest selling newspaper in New York. It is a story of rising to greatness, and many will be inspired to make a brand for themselves just as Pulitzer did with his newspapers.

    Fanbase Potential

    This property has a creative nonfiction and historical bent to it that will not draw the same crowds as a summer action film. There is surely an audience in the 30+ demographics, but there is a chance that the story will only appeal to more educated crowds.

    Awards Potential

    There is certainly award potential for a historical drama such as this. Just in the way that The Post (2017) captured some of the spotlight, this literary battle of the greats in New York is likely to turn some heads in the upper echelons.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    THE POST (2017), ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (1976)

    What’s New About the Story

    As far as historical nonfiction goes, it is a seemingly true-to-tale retelling. Some events are clearly embellished and the dialogue is invented, but there is nothing that screams out as wildly inventive. That in mind, it is a strong candidate for literary history fans and could gain some award notoriety in the process.

    Lead Characters

    Pulitzer is hardworking, inventive and truly a visionary. He is a man with no where to go but up, and he has that confidence from the very beginning. Joseph Pulitzer is a testament to what self-belief can accomplish.

    Uniqueness of Story

    I would say this is a strong candidate for a director/producer with some creative nonfiction experience and a bent for history. There is drama to be sucked from the bones of this story that Crimmins has just started to get at by the end of the story. There is a feeling of repetition that wanes the reader's interest over time, but the shortened cinematic time-frame could be enough to push this story into a higher gear.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio

    Analyst Recommendation

    RECOMMEND

    Justification

    The story is strong and there is plenty of fire to boost interest in a Hungarian Jewish man that many people have never heard of. If there is anything slowing this story down it is previous interpretations, such as the 1hr 25min piece done on Joseph Pulitzer in early 2019. For those interested in adapting this story, focus on the dramatic elements and allow the enigma of Joseph Pulitzer's legacy to be the guiding force, rather than the man himself.

    Brief

    Young Jewish Hungarian Joseph Pulitzer comes to America to fight, but ends up down a different path. Quickly mastering English and attaining a law degree through his voracious reading habits, Pulitzer skips from job to job in Post Civil War America until he is picked up as a newspaper reporter. He is a cunning natural and he finds himself in control of his first newspaper when his mentor moves to New York. After marrying and growing too large for St. Louis, he moves to New York to fight with the big boys in newspaper publishing. He never gives up the fight, not even in the face of the President Roosevelt and US Supreme Court.

    What We Liked

    - The story of Pulitzer's life sells itself, and there is a great deal of drama with famous characters in history that are well-known, such as President Roosevelt and President Cleveland.
    - There are several strong angles to capture the story from that extend beyond the paper to Pulitzer's life itself, his image, and his no-holds-barred approach to achievement that will be inspiring to all viewers.
    - This film can be a mirror of Pulitzer's own philosophy: get people in the door with a catchy title and teach them a thing or two about history along the way.
    - Key points: Coming of Age, Rags to Riches, Self-Made Icon, Achievement through Perseverance, Immigrant's Success Story

    Synopsis

    Young Jewish Hungarian Joseph Pulitzer flees Hungary when his mom remarries and he disapproves. After trying and failing at first to get into the army, he eventually succeeds in landing a cavalry position that puts him in New York during the Civil War.

    He doesn't see much fighting after nearly getting booted for slapping a higher officer, and when the war is over he continues his streak of bad luck for several years.

    Eventually his luck turns and he is hired to do journalism in St. Louis for his mentors, Schurz and Davidson.

    He is a natural and he uses newfound sensationalist writing charms to pull people in and teach them at the same time.

    His rise increases when he buys the paper off Schurz who is headed to New York. He marries his partner Kate Davis and his life is thrust into the upper crust of St. Louis life while he battles to improve readership of his paper.

    His tactics improve sales, but ostracize his family from high and low society, so he buys the World newspaper off a man he hates, Jay Gould, and moves to New York.

    There his progress is just as astronomical. He turns the paper on its head and takes his flash headlines and intellectual editorials and steals readership from the Herald, The Sun and the Journal.

    The chiefs and owners of each paper are furious. They attack his heritage, his religion and his business but they don't succeed in slowing him down.

    When health gets in the way and leaves him nearly blind, he starts running the paper remotely. At this point he has influenced governors and presidents, and he has decided to go after President Roosevelt for his cavalier dealings in Panama.

    It lands him in the Supreme Court, where his lawyer background shines through and he defends himself and his paper against the highest office in the land.

    About The Author

    Terrence Crimmins has a BA and a Master’s Degree in History from Boston College, where he, in his own words, learned to play rugby, drink beer and read five hundred page history books in small print. His first notable achievement of the academic variety was the publication of a paper he wrote as a senior in college in an academic journal. Professionally, he taught school in Baltimore for ten years, and has done newspaper work, written online columns, optioned a screenplay for production as well as publishing two novels and a number of short stories. He currently is relaxing in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, writing about the comedy and drama of the American experience.