Kirkus Star


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Known in the Kennedy years as the ""Hedda Hopper of the Potomac,"" Cheshire combines the flair of a gossip columnist with the instincts of a true newshound. She has, by her own estimation, been one of the people who upgraded the women's pages of the Washington Post from tea-party chitchat to the political misdeeds of the glamorous and powerful. Her targets range from Frank Sinatra who once called her unprintable names to the Nixons whose lavish collection of gifts from foreign potentates was illegally kept by the family. The latter story emerged piecemeal and entailed years of digging for sources who came to include Betty Ford's hard-drinking personal secretary and the Nixons' personal jewelry appraiser. The best stories here, though, are about the Kennedys--JFK's lecherous habits; Jackie's slovenly housekeeping, lust for money, and marriage to ""that greasy Greek gangster"" (in the words of editor Ben Bradlee). The Jackie-Onassis wedding sent Cheshire on a frenzied trip to Skorpios for the ceremony which she scooped even though Onassis had ""shut down the country."" Her moniker at the Post, not undeserved judging from the list of those whose wrath she's incurred, is The Last of the Fast-Draw Gunslingers. As a society reporter, Cheshire moves deftly through the world of antique dealers, fashion designers, and horticultural advisers but one understands why writing a column on VIPs didn't wholly satisfy her. Now deep into the ""Koreagate"" scandal (Tongsun Park, she believes, had little or no money of his own), Cheshire seems to have her eye on the front page. Her brisk, entertaining professional autobiography will convince you that politicians come and go but a good reporter can outlast them all.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin