"I hope I shall have ambition until the day I die," Clare Boothe Luce told her biographer Sylvia Jukes Morris. Price of Fame, the concluding volume of the life of an exceptionally brilliant polymath, chronicles Luce's progress from the early months of World War II, when, as an eye-catching Congresswoman and the only female member of the House Military Affairs Committee, she toured the Western Front, captivating generals and GIs. She even visited Buchenwald and other concentration camps within days of their liberation. After a shattering personal tragedy, she converted to Roman Catholicism, and became the first American woman to be appointed ambassador to a major foreign power. "La Luce," as the Italians called her, was also a prolific journalist and magnetic public speaker, as well as a playwright, screenwriter, pioneer scuba diver, early experimenter in psychedelic drugs, and grande dame of the GOP in the Reagan era. Tempestuously married to Henry Luce, the powerful publisher of Time Inc., she endured his infidelities while pursuing her own, and remained a practiced vamp well into old age.
Price of Fame begins in January 1943 with Clare's arrival on Capitol Hill as a newly elected Republican from Connecticut. The thirty-nine-year-old beauty attracted nationwide attention in a sensational maiden speech, attacking Vice President Henry Wallace's civil aviation proposals as "globaloney." Although she irked President Franklin D. Roosevelt by slanging his New Deal as "a dictatorial Bumbledom," she impressed his wife Eleanor.
Revealing liberal propensities, she lobbied for relaxed immigration policies for Chinese, Indians, and displaced European Jews, as well as equal rights for women and blacks. Following Hiroshima, the legislator whom J. William Fulbright described as "the smartest colleague I ever served with" became a passionate advocate of nuclear arms control. But in 1946, she gave up her House seat, convinced that politics was "the refuge of second-class minds."
After a few seasons of proselytizing on the Catholic lecture circuit, Clare emerged as a formidable television personality, campaigning so spectacularly for the victorious Republican presidential candidate, Dwight D. Eisenhower, that he rewarded her with the Rome embassy.
Ambassador Luce took an uncompromising attitude toward Italy's Communist Party, the world's second largest, and skillfully helped settle the fraught Trieste crisis between Italy and Yugoslavia. She was then stricken by a mysterious case of poisoning that the CIA kept secret, suspecting a Communist plot to assassinate her. The full story, told here for the first time, reads like a detective novel.
Price of Fame goes on to record the crowded later years of the Honorable Clare Boothe Luce, during which she strengthened her friendships with Winston Churchill, Somerset Maugham, John F. Kennedy, Evelyn Waugh, Lyndon Johnson, Salvador Dali, Richard Nixon, William F. Buckley, the composer Carlos Chavez, Ronald Reagan, and countless other celebrities who, after Henry Luce's death, visited her lavish Honolulu retreat. In 1973, she was appointed by Nixon to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a position she continued to hold in the Ford and Reagan administrations.
Sylvia Jukes Morris is the only writer to have had complete access to Mrs. Luce's prodigious collection of public and private papers. In addition, she had unique access to her subject, whose death at eighty-four ended a life that for variety of accomplishment qualifies Clare Boothe Luce for the title of "Woman of the Century."
Advance praise for "Price of Fame"" " "Sylvia Juke Morris's epic "Price of Fame" is a thrilling account of one of the twentieth century's most intriguing and ambitious society figures. This second installment is every bit as compelling as the first. The life of Clare Boothe Luce illuminates the complex forces and fierce crosswinds behind the rise of the modern American woman."--Dr. Amanda Foreman, bestselling author of "Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire" and "A World on Fire"" " "By the time she was 40, Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) had been an actress, Broadway playwright, war correspondent, managing editor of "Vanity Fair" and Republican congresswoman from Connecticut. . . . Blonde, beautiful and glamorous (Morris includes details about Luce's sumptuous wardrobe at every occasion), she took many lovers, with a special preference for men in uniform. . . . Luce's frenzied need to engage in all-consuming work was fueled by a daily round of stimulants and sedatives; she fell into black depressions and paranoia, especially if she felt rejected or ignored. Desperately, she needed to be the center of attention. . . . Morris perceptively reveals the nightmare in this evenhanded and intimate portrait."--"Kirkus Reviews" Praise for Sylvia Jukes Morris's "Rage for Fame, "a "New York Times "Notable Book "A model biography . . . the sort that only real writers can write."--Gore Vidal, "The New Yorker" "Crammed with enough drama for several mini-series."--Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times" "A stunning feat of biography."--Christopher Buckley, "Forbes"" " "Relentlessly candid, meticulously documented, [it] traces Luce's rocketing rise from illegitimacy and poverty to wealth, power and fame."--Arline B. Tehan," Hartford Courant" "[A] dishy biography that is also a formidable work of research."--Margaret Talbot," Slate"" " "One of those rare books where the reader dreads the final page."--Lois Spratley, l
Number Of Pages: 735
Published: 17th June 2014
Publisher: Random House
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.5 x 3.8
Weight (kg): 1.11