The Unauthorized Biography of the World's Bestselling Author
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 Danielle's dirty linen. A lot of this unauthorized biography is about legal wrangling, much of it to do with child custody. It's a good story, but Steel could have told it better. Bane and Benet, People magazine staff reporters, follow up on their Steel exposÇ of 1992 (written with Paula Chin) with this book cobbled together from interviews, court depositions, and letters Steel wrote to her second husband, Danny Zugelder (most while he was in prison). Heaven knows Steel's life is more than the stuff of romance. She was a neglected child. When she was hospitalized with ovarian cancer at 16, her parents never visited her. She married two convicts: Zugelder, a car thief and bank robber, who was also jailed for assault and rape (they were married in a prison ceremony and consummated their relationship in a bathroom); and Bill Toth, a heroin addict imprisoned for fencing stolen goods. Toth and Steel fought over custody of their son, Nicholas, and much of the last half of the bio comes from trial depositions and interviews with Toth and his lawyers. Steel finally found her putative Prince Charming in John Traina, who the authors take pains to point out is not and has never been a shipping magnate, though he does have a dynamite collection of cigarette cases and closets full of designer clothes. With their nine children, Steel and Traina bought the enormous Spreckels mansion in San Francisco. They also own a mini- compound in the Napa Valley, where they house a fleet of cars and a staff of thousands. For the sins of success, eccentricity, and a strong sense of privacy, the authors try to build a case against Steel. But in the end she comes through as a hard worker and a gritty survivor. It's you-can-run-but-you-can't-hide journalism, gossipy with a sound foundation, and not too high on elegant turns of phrase. (First printing of 100,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-11257-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1994