The epigram "beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword," applies to most people, but not to Charles or Michael de Young. Charles perished by the pen and Michael survived the sword. "Mean," "malignant," "disreputable" and "blackmailer" are a few of the sobriquets these two brothers accumulated during their publishing days. They also amassed power, wealth and ultimately the highest social standing. Like so many men who achieve great success, they came from humble beginnings. Their father, a Dutch-Jewish immigrant, lived on the East Coast suffering equal measures of success and despair. When he died early in the 1860s, his wife moved to San Francisco with her brood of three children, Gustavas, Charles and Michael. She was nearly penniless.