QUEEN BESS: The Unauthorized Biography of Bass Myerson by Jennifer Preston

QUEEN BESS: The Unauthorized Biography of Bass Myerson

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Preston (a former Newsday reporter) offers much the same factual material as Shana Alexander in When She Was Bad (reviewed above), but the focus here is strictly on Bess, the organization is chronological, and footnotes and several interviews with Myerson herself bolster credibility. It's all here: the Bronx childhood, the Miss America contest, the two unhappy marriages, the years on TV, the running of N.Y.C.'s Department of Consumer Affairs. Myerson's bout with ovarian cancer--which she kept secret at the time--is described, and credited by some as exacting a toll on her character. (""She became hard,"" a man who was then dating her is quoted as saying. ""She became defensive and tough. When you have something that you cannot control, you lose your self-confidence, and she lost her self-confidence."") The publicity-stunt flirtation with Koch is spelled out, as is Myerson's harassment of a former lover and his girlfriend. Myerson's affair with Andy Capasso, hiring of Sukhreet Gabel, and subsequent trial are, of course, the major focus. Copiously reported and clearly recounted, this account is much less taxing to read than Alexander's. The chapters on the trial and jury deliberations are especially strong If Alexander offers breadth (history and psychological speculation about all four women), major themes (what they did for love), and a cannier eye for detail, Preston offers a more coherent recapitulation and a more insightful take on the mechanics of the justice system.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
Publisher: Contemporary