Books by Linda Bird Francke

Released: Nov. 22, 2005

"A winning combination of travelogue and religious biography."
Guided by several medieval biographies whose timelines often do not jibe, former Newsweek editor Francke (Ground Zero, 1997, etc.) amiably follows the trail of Saint Francis, who for most of his adult life was a wandering preacher in the small hill towns of Italy. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 4, 1998

Build a better dress and they will come: this is the theme of this celebrity autobiography by designer/jet setter Von Furstenberg. The daughter of a concentration camp survivor, 22-year-old Von Furstenberg was living in 1960s New York with her husband, German Prince Eduard Egon Von Furstenberg, when she introduced the dress that would make her a fashion icon and a millionaire in her own right. The wrap dress, she says, was ‘' . . . nothing really. just a few yards of fabric with two sleeves and a wide wrap sash." But it caught the imaginations of millions of women and even entered the Smithsonian Institution's pop culture collection. Von Furstenberg also worked hard, crisscrossed the country promoting her line of clothing, sometimes chasing a potential customer across the selling floor to insist the matron was not "too old and too fat" to wear the dress. Although separated from her husband after less than four years of marriage, Von Furstenberg was devoted to her two children, characterizing herself as as "a single, working mother." Unlike most single mothers, she dined and danced at the White House, becoming friends with Henry Kissinger, California's former governor Jerry Brown, and movie mogul Barry Diller. When women's power suits and some unfortunate business decisions led to the decline of The Dress and of the value of her name, she sold it all (very profitably) and moved to Paris with an Italian novelist. There she ran a literary salon, welcoming writers from Alberto Moravia to Bret Easton Ellis. But business was where her talent lay; she returned to New York in 1989 and found her way onto QVC, a TV shopping channel, where in four years she sold $40 million worth of her designs. She also survived a bout with cancer. Decorated by a glamorous roster of friends and acquaintances (from Andy Warhol to Queen Elizabeth II), this biography is direct and unpretentious, but essentially insubstantial—much like the wrap dress. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1997

Francke (Growing Up Divorced, 1983, etc.) offers a timely, detailed study of ``the cultural and biological forces within the military culture that divide the sexes, dictate women's harassment, and demean their achievements.'' It focuses on events in the early 1990s, in the period following Desert Storm, and more particularly on the often bitter struggle to open combat positions to women. In angry, persuasive detail Francke traces the extraordinary problems women face in the military (from special forms of harassment to violence), dissects the often spurious arguments used by those fighting against allowing women in combat, and captures the often extraordinary struggles of particular women determined to make a career out of the military, despite both overt and covert opposition. Filled with specifics on policy debates in Congress and in the military, and with exhaustive records of such matters as the variety of experiences of women serving in the Gulf War forces, Francke's work is a clear, forceful introduction to an important and little understood form of gender conflict. Clear, fascinating, and useful. Read full book review >