STRING OF PEARLS by Priscilla L. Buckley

STRING OF PEARLS

On the News Beat in New York and Paris

KIRKUS REVIEW

A breezy memoir by the former managing editor of National Review.

Buckley begins with a swift account of her WWII years in New York (initially as an ill-paid copy girl for United Press), then proceeds to Paris in the early 1950s, where she also worked for UP. Good fortune saw her on duty when two of the century’s biggest stories broke: the surrender of Japan in 1945 (she wrote the first UP radio broadcast of that news) and the 1954 fall of Diên Biên Phú. Commenting on the latter, she observes that the surrendering French forces included many Germans who had joined the Legion to avoid prosecution for war crimes. She ends with her decision to join her brother William F. Buckley Jr., who was just then creating National Review. (In an affectionate afterword William credits his sister with being “the organizing editorial intelligence” of the magazine.) Buckley is at her best when evoking both the chaotic atmosphere and the easy camaraderie at UP. Significant events were happening virtually every day; pressure was immense to beat the rival Associated Press and to accommodate clients (who sometimes requested feature stories difficult to produce on short notice). She can also strike with a velvet-covered fist: Her attempts to convince Gloria Swanson (who wrote a short-lived column) to be more chatty and catty were about as successful, she says, as “lecturing one of those stone heads on Easter Island.” Oddly, the fastidious former editor several times displays a tremendous lack of precision. Recalling an interview with a GI working in a Paris hotel kitchen, she writes: “He introduces himself, Corporal Gadowski or something of the sort.” She also relates several entertaining anecdotes that feature punch lines in untranslated French.

Contains lovely descriptions of France and many amusing accounts of journalism at its most frenetic during the Glenn Miller era (hence the title), but glimpses of Buckley’s interior life are few and fleeting. (22 b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-27217-0
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2000




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