Whose life story is it anyway? Nowhere in her memoir does Eleanor Dulles mention Leonard Moseley's triple biography of...



Whose life story is it anyway? Nowhere in her memoir does Eleanor Dulles mention Leonard Moseley's triple biography of herself and brothers Allen and John Foster (Dulles, 1978), in which she is cited as a prime source of information--sometimes, on her own life, as the source of information. But either Moseley got it wrong, or she'd have it otherwise, or perhaps a bit of both. Moseley's is a highly colored, gossipy book, so it's no wonder that Allen's and Foster's high-level hijinks overshadow Eleanor's labors as an expert in government finance. In part, then, this is the story of how, as a woman, she came by her unusual career--along with the obstacles she overcame, or couldn't. After a bracing stint helping refugees in WW I France, Eleanor set her sights on heavy industry--and then, stymied, switched to a specialty that promised ""influence over events"": economics. Undeterred by Foster's doubts, she produced a pioneering study of the French franc; refusing to be brushed off, she managed an eyewitness report on the new Bank for International Settlements; and for seven years (193642) she worked for the also new and innovative Social Security Board. Then, at the end of World War II, came Opportunity--first, to help rebuild the Austrian economy, then to promote Allied-occupied Berlin as a Western showcase. Moseley duly salutes these achievements; ELD tells how she pulled them off--by pretending to a rank higher than she held, by upstaging less informed men, by ""planting"" proposals and then approving them. But it's the central episode of her personal life--her troubled love for Jewish philologist David Blondheim, their much-delayed marriage, his suicide just before the birth of their first child--that is recounted and interpreted altogether differently in the two books (with Moseley maximizing David's Jewishness in every regard, she stressing her independence and their poverty). There may be evasions and omissions here (family tensions are downplayed throughout), but one accepts as the emotional truth her unexpected joy, at 30, in finding David--a man who asked what she thought of the gold standard, then waited on her doorstep with flowers--and the stark tragedy of their parting. That unstanched wound, not Moseley's social embarrassment (""Mixed Marriage""), is the essential counterweight to the story of a driving, restless woman--still looking for work in her eighties.

Pub Date: April 30, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Prentice-Hall

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980