Price of Fame

Price of Fame

The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce

Book - 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 Dal#65533;, Richard Nixon, William F. Buckley, the composer Carlos Ch#65533;vez, 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."
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780679457114
Characteristics: xiii, 735 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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PrimaGigi Jul 19, 2015

Maybe if the biographer weren't so closely associated with Clare, I would have gotten a more in-depth portrait of her. All that was written were just repeated platitudes, overtures, and how lovely she looked in outfits. No real look into her working as a congressperson; only that it entirely seemed as if she was hated and loved in equal measure. Just because she was vocal about important issues. I know most men can't handle women having a voice in pretty much anything, I just wondered though at the biased and how her detractors were just simply brushed off as haters and no look further into their relationships with Clare. If we are to look at our former politicians fairly, than we need unbiased and honest accounts of their failures and triumphs, to make a uniformed opinion about both sides of the fence in which they landed or sat on. I'm sure Clare Booths Luce was a stunning politician and statesperson who fought very hard for the people, I just wanted a more realistic look at this vivacious woman. (I DNF)

Oct 07, 2014

It was not Ms Morris' writing that caused me to bog down but Claire herself. Midway through I realized that I was becoming less & less able to ignore the fact that the Honorable C B Luce was apparently incapable of really caring for anyone but herself. Perhaps one day when i am older & wiser, I will take it up again and find clues that I am currently missing. Perhaps she redeems herself in the end. But for now, I just can't slog through any more.


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