The Huntress: The Adventures, Escapades and Triumphs of Alicia Patterson

Alice and Michael J. Arlen, Pantheon, 357 pages, $28.95. Alicia Patterson, the founder, first editor and first publisher of Newsday, had three marriages — the first two forced on her by her parents and none of them made in heaven. The third marriage was to Harry Guggenheim, the fabulously wealthy heir to the Anaconda Copper fortune. Her great romance, according to Alice and Michael J. Arlen, was with Adlai Stevenson, the Illinois governor and Democratic candidate for president. Patterson was from a wealthy Chicago newspaper family. Her grandfather, Joseph Medill, had been the owner of the Chicago Tribune, and her father, Joseph Patterson, had used Tribune money to start the New York Daily News. She herself, with Guggenheim’s money, bought a tiny, awful community newspaper on Long Island in 1940, changed the name to Newsday, and turned it into a journalistic success. The late Alice Arlen is Patterson’s niece; her husband, Michael, won a National Book Award for “Passage to Ararat.” Their biography is admiring but not uncritical, and the narrative is smooth and polished from start to end. Patterson started running Newsday on her own when Guggenheim was serving in World War II. The couple feuded upon his return until she died in 1963, especially about his criticisms of Newsday’s content and management and his insistence on maintaining his 51 percent control. Yet Newsday was her creation, her joy and — as the Arlens make clear in their engaging biography — the love of her life. NEWSDAY