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Price of Fame : The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce - Sylvia Jukes Morris

Price of Fame

The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce

Hardcover

Published: 17th June 2014
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"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."

"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."--Amanda Foreman, bestselling author of "Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire"" ""Delicious . . . In "Price of Fame, " the second volume of her stellar biography of Ann Clare Boothe Brokaw Luce (1903-87), Sylvia Jukes Morris takes up the story she began in "Rage for Fame, " published seventeen years ago. Both books are models of the biographer's art--meticulously researched, sophisticated, fair-minded and compulsively readable."--Edward Kosner, "The Wall Street Journal"" ""Clare Boothe Luce [was] one of the twentieth century's most ambitious, unstoppable and undeniably ingenious characters. . . . This full, warts-and-all biography hauls her back into the limelight and does her full justice."--Janet Maslin, "The New York Times" ""Price of Fame" continues the second half of [Clare Booth Luce's] amazing story, clearly capturing the successes and pathos of a narcissist infused with shame and self-hate. . . . A running theme throughout Clare's life is her shimmering sexuality--a lethal cocktail of luminosity, charm, intelligence and wit. . . . It is the author's steady, sensitive handling of the material, told with humor and objectivity, that makes this biography so poignant and profound. The author's skill at delving deep into sources was eventually rewarded by Clare herself, who confessed she felt closest to Ms. Morris 'because you know everything.' However, it is the late Librarian of Congress, Daniel Boorstin, who said it best: 'How often does it happen, ' he asked, 'this coming together of a great subject and an ideal biographer?' That observation beautifully applies to "Price of Fame, " and it is nothing short of a triumph."--Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, "The Washington Times" "Compelling . . . [a] brilliant biography . . . After finishing "Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce, "few readers will find a term as dull as 'The Honorable' to be befitting so spirited a personage. 'The Beguiling' or 'The Buoyant' would be more like it--or maybe, for the woman who negotiated both the boards of Broadway and political office, 'The Groundbreaking.'"--Peter Tonguette, "The Christian Science Monitor" "Fascinating . . . Clare Boothe Luce has a lot to answer for. As the grande dame of the Republican Party, she introduced Richard Nixon to Henry Kissinger at her 1967 Christmas cocktail party. As "la belle dame sans merci" of Manhattan's smart set, she took whatever she wanted from life without regard to moral consequences. . . . Luce's pathological need to invent and reinvent herself, her restless, acquisitive drive to conquer new worlds and her cascading calamities end up providing plenty of vivid material."--Maureen Dowd, "The New York Times Book Review"" ""Vivid . . . There's a thrilling kind of energy in watching this ruthlessly self-made life take shape, an energy that is matched and reversed in "Price of Fame, " as celebrity just as ruthlessly takes its toll. . . . The biography offers a detailed picture of the evolution of U.S. politics and culture from World War II into the Reagan era. . . . In a culture where the rage for fame feels inescapable, ["Price of Fame"] might just help us to weigh its costs more accurately and count the blessings of obscurity."--Joanna Scutts, "The Washington Post" "Exhaustively detailed (and well-written) . . . In her youth, Clare Boothe Luce was a Depression-era Carrie Bradshaw, a go-getting, sexually freewheeling quipster who reveled in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan; by World War II, she had degenerated into a modern-day Cersei Lannister, entitled, power-hungry and morally hypocritical. This sea change is one of the more memorable aspects of "Price of Fame." . . . Morris chose her title well. Clare paid a heavy price for her fame. Whether she lost her soul after gaining the world, undoubtedly she suffered amid the splendor."--Ariel Gonzalez, "The Miami Herald""Moving . . . Beauty was an asset Clare Boothe Luce used to her political (and financial) advantage. But so, too, were the other characteristics summed up by Sylvia Jukes Morris in this second and final part of her exhaustive biography of one of the most remarkable women of twentieth-century America: 'charm, humour, coquetry, intellect, ambition.' . . . [Morris] had unparalleled access to her subject before Luce's death in 1987 and to her papers (all 460,000 of them) in the Library of Congress. The result is a portrait of a woman gifted with intelligence and drive, but marred by narcissism and scarred by a constant sense of loneliness."--"The Economist" "Raised by her mother to manipulate men and compete with women, Luce was fundamentally cold. Lovers were chosen for their looks or status; admirers were welcomed so long as they remained entirely admiring. . . . Narcissism, the need for an audience, and a willingness to use people are hardly uncommon traits in politicians, and it's to Luce's credit that she had enough empathy for others to be a staunch, early advocate of independence for European colonies abroad and full civil rights for African-Americans at home, positions not generally held by those who shared her hardline anticommunist views. . . . Morris's cool portrait is eminently fair, depicting Luce's faults and fine points with equal detachment."--Wendy Smith, "The Daily Beast" "Morris's shrewd portrait shows a woman of extraordinary contrasts: a celebrated beauty and wit who inspired giddy love letters from generals; a sharp thinker and writer. . . . Morris, who once lived with Luce and had access to her diaries, evokes her subject's charisma without unduly succumbing to it; she presents a clear-eyed assessment of Luce's strong, egotistical personality that does full justice to this fascinating icon."--"Publishers Weekly"" ""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. . . . Desperately, she needed to be the center of attention. . . . Morris perceptively reveals the nightmare in this evenhanded and intimate portrait."--"Kirkus Reviews"

ISBN: 9780679457114
ISBN-10: 0679457119
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 752
Published: 17th June 2014
Publisher: Random House USA Inc
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.5  x 3.8
Weight (kg): 1.08