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

The Price of Fame

The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce


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."

Throughout her life she had aimed for the best of everything and usually gotten it, Sylvia Jukes Morris writes. . . . Clare Boothe Luce was an actress-editrix-playwright-screenwriter-congresswoman-ambassador-presidential adviser. And as the wife of Henry Luce, father of the Time empire, she was the clever half of the predominant power couple of the mid-twentieth century. Maureen Dowd, The New York Times Book Review In Price of Fame, the second volume of her stellar biography of [Luce], Sylvia Jukes Morris takes up the story she began in Rage for Fame, published 17 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 Sylvia Jukes Morris s brilliant biography . . . tracks the last half of its subject s life with dexterity. . . . Luce was as serious about her faith as she was about civil rights. But Morris never lets us forget that she was also a wit par excellence. . . . Read the gems sprinkled throughout Price of Fame. Peter Tonguette, The Christian Science Monitor 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. Joanna Scutts, The Washington Post Morris s cool portrait is eminently fair, depicting Luce s faults and fine points with equal detachment. Wendy Smith, The Daily Beast 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 It is the author s steady, sensitive handling of the material, told with humor and objectivity, that makes this biography so poignant and profound. . . . [Price of Fame] is nothing short of a triumph. Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, The Washington Times Morris s shrewd portrait shows a woman of extraordinary contrasts. . . . She presents a clear-eyed assessment of Luce s strong, egotistical personality. Publishers Weekly With this second and concluding volume of her biography of Clare Boothe Luce, Sylvia Jukes Morris completes the tantalizing saga of a woman who helped define the pushy broad in a century when men made the rules. . . . The result is an impeccably researched and thoughtfully written epic that crackles with the energy that defined her subject. Amy Henderson, The Weekly Standard 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. . .: charm, humour, coquetry, intellect, ambition. [She was] a woman gifted with intelligence and drive, but marred by narcissism and scarred by a constant sense of loneliness. There is a moving account of Luce s conversion to Catholicism and a persuasive analysis of her role as ambassador to Rome in resolving the post-war status of Trieste. The Economist Morris, who was given exclusive access to Luce s diaries and papers, published her first biographical volume of this remarkable woman s life [in 1997]. It concluded with Luce s election to Congress. This long-awaited sequel tells about the political and personal events in the last half of the subject s life, thoroughly describing traumatic losses, romantic dalliances, and marital struggles that consumed both Luce and her husband for nearly all of their remaining years together. . . . Readers who liked Rage for Fame and longed for more about this talented, determined woman will enjoy the full attention the author devotes to this work. Those interested in mid-century political history, too, will find much to reward their perseverance in this long but fascinating biography. Library Journal If Clare Boothe Luce, with her lowly origins and blinding ambition, hadn t existed, she might have sprung fully formed from the imagination of Henry James. . . . Sylvia Jukes Morris has written [a] clear-eyed account of this complicated and self-contradictory figure, one who had everything a person could wish for and still experienced great unhappiness. . . . This is a fascinating, close-up look at a woman whose prodigious gifts were used in the service of her appetites for wealth, fame, and power . . . a stylish striver whose blond ambition has not yet been matched in its scope by any woman who has come after her. Daphne Merkin, BookForum Believe me, the good stuff is here, in this second volume. In dazzling, devastating spades. . . . What makes Price of Fame so riveting is that one literally doesn t know what to make of Clare Boothe Luce. . . . My jaw dropped over and over again. . . . Her soul was restless, unquiet. But despite dark moments of despair and the fact that many who knew her and loved her, found her essentially a tragic figure she carried a genuine life force. [Here] is one of the most fabulous, intimate biographies I have ever read. If you re interested in the twentieth-century history of this country, seen through the eyes and actions of a remarkable woman, this book is for you. If you crave tales of psychological unhingement amid the best of everything, you won t be disappointed either! Liz Smith, Chicago Tribune"

ISBN: 9780679457114
ISBN-10: 0679457119
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 752
Published: 17th June 2014
Publisher: Random House USA Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.5  x 3.8
Weight (kg): 1.11
Edition Number: 1