DEAREST MADAME: The presidents Mistresses by Irma Hunt

DEAREST MADAME: The presidents Mistresses

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The central contention of this quick-mix version of history is that the mistresses who touched our Presidents' lives have, by extension, touched our lives. While this is highly questionable, it might at least present some justification for delving into the lives of Presidential mistresses (?) from Sally Cary Fairfax to Judith Exner and Marilyn Monroe. Here, however, they appear not as full-bodied individuals but as pop-psychology ploys. Thus, George Washington, Warren Harding, and Dwight Eisenhower may have dallied because of feelings of inadequacy; Franklin Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland were largely the victims of maternal overattachment; Thomas Jefferson's mulatto mistress was an inevitable result of his (passionately condemned) racism; and John Kennedy's ""hyperactivity"" could have been caused either by drugs or by his father's bad example. In her attempt to prove that our Presidents are ""human,"" Hunt often sinks to pure invective. Eisenhower, we are told, lectured us on ""the evils of socialism. . . he who had never made more than ninety dollars a month in his fleeting brush with free enterprise. . . ."" Nor do the Presidential wives escape unscathed--viewers of the young, prehumanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt are invited to succumb to a ""sacrilegious wish--to shake the shoulders of that shadowy, whining wretch and give her some simple advice: 'Oh, for God's sweet sake, Eleanor, grow up.'"" Also among the casualties are numerous historians, particularly those who express doubts about the consummation of a Presidential affair. Slick and utterly speculative.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1978
Publisher: McGraw-Hill