A lively chronicle of an eventful life told with style and rigor.



A biography of Gertrude Sanford Legendre, a wealthy socialite–turned–World War II spy.

Legendre was born in 1902 to an “ultra-wealthy family” in Aiken, South Carolina, and enjoyed an enviably privileged youth. However, she always yearned for adventure—a desire that biographer Smith (co-author: Eleanor Roosevelt Goes to Prison, 2019, etc.) stirringly depicts in these pages. In particular, Legendre developed a youthful “obsession with big game hunting,” according to Smith, shortly after graduating high school, and she traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, on a hunting expedition, during which she killed five lions. She later traveled to Ethiopia with the aim of bringing back an African antelope, the mountain nyala, for New York’s American Museum of Natural History—a mission she accomplished. During the halcyon days of the 1920s, she indulged in some “serious partying,” as the author puts it, on the French Riviera, but her life would take a dramatic turn during World War II. She was recruited to work for the American Office of the Coordinator of Information, the organizational precursor to the Office of Strategic Services, which eventually became the Central Intelligence Agency. She worked long hours at a cable desk in Washington, D.C., before being transferred to London, and she “reveled in being in the thick of war activity,” writes Smith. While on leave in Paris, she longed to get closer to the action and irresponsibly took a “joy ride” in enemy territory and was captured by German soldiers in Luxembourg. The dramatic crescendo of Smith’s action-packed portrait is Legendre’s daring escape from her captors across the Swiss border, and it’s a sequence of events worthy of a feature film. It’s clear that the author is enchanted by her subject, but she manages to avoid hagiography; for example, she includes evidence that Legendre didn’t get along well with her children. Still, for all her shortcomings, the book makes clear that she was a redoubtable force. As Smith puts it, Legendre truly “bucked many of the constraints of proper society that strait-jacketed so many of her female peers.”

A lively chronicle of an eventful life told with style and rigor.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-929647-44-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: Evening Post Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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