But there was a price to be paid, Hertog shows, for any woman aspiring to such greatness. As much as they sought voice and power in the public forum of opinion and ideas, and the independence of mind and money that came with them, Thompson and West craved the comforts of marriage and home. Torn between convention and the opportunities of the new postwar global world, they were drawn to men who were as ambitious and hungry for love as themselves: Wells, the lusty literary eminence whose sexual and emotional demands doomed any chance they may have had at love. Brimming with fresh insights obtained from previously sealed archives, this penetrating dual biography is a story of twinned lives caught up in the crosscurrents of world events and affairs of the heart—and of the unique trans-Atlantic friendship forged by two of the most creative and complex women of their time.
From the Hardcover edition. Dorothy Thompson and Rebecca West: New Women in Search And then you don't need to swallow, with the information, the bile of a writer who, one might guess, put aside her own ambitions to raise her children, and now resents the loss of time, and any woman who did not. While I was waiting for this book to arrive, I watched the movie that was made in the s about Dorothy Thompson, starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. In this iteration, Thompson, the multi-lingual, highly sophisticated and knowledgable columnist and radio star, meets and falls in love with Spencer Tracy, who writes.
After falling in love, he sulks about her trendy gatherings, he sulks about her busy schedule, he sulks about her high-flying career, and tries to introduce her to the merits of. Katherine Hepburn no, not Thompson anymore amuses us with her attempts to learn to cook for him. In the end, she gives up her snazzy apartment and goes to live at his place, and gives up her career because serving the emotional needs of a sports columnist is more important than the insights of an important writer and journalist on the events in Eastern Europen at the advent of World War II, her beat, and the area of her expertise.
Yes, that was pretty annoying. But it was seventy years ago, and the author of Dangerous Ambtion, darn well ought to know better! Aug 04, Jenny Brown rated it liked it.
This is one of those biographies that leaves you quivering with contempt for its subjects. Though this group biography is obviously the product of much labor and research, the author can't get out of her own way and mars her narration by continually telling us what we are supposed to think about her subjects rather than painting scenes and giving us the information we need to draw our own conclusions.
I'd read the Glendenning bio of Rebecca West, and loved The Fountain Overflows, one of West's n This is one of those biographies that leaves you quivering with contempt for its subjects. I'd read the Glendenning bio of Rebecca West, and loved The Fountain Overflows, one of West's novels, so I was saddened by the portrait she paints of West as a hugely narcissistic, snobbish, self-involved person whose style of mothering is summed up by the fact that she sent her son away to boarding school at the age of three.
Thompson, a famed journalist, is also portrayed as a toxic mother who despite her anti-fascist stance before WWII disgraced herself by dedicating her later years to actively promoting an anti-semitic, racist agenda. I have to wonder if either woman was as selfish, destructive, and repellent as she is painted here.
The focus on these women's failure to mother well and their mediocre marriages is not balanced with much insight into what it is about their writings that made them huge public figures in an age where most women lived very private lives. One feels like the unstated theme of this book is that women can't have it all--and that attempting to have a career requires fatally damaging one's children and alienating one's spouse, which is belied by the lives of other women active in the same time period who managed to write or report and lead reasonably normal family lives.
All in all this was a very unsatisfying read for me, which given my usual soothsaying ability means it will probably be nominated for some major award.
Most biographies I dislike are. Nov 02, Richard Jespers rated it it was amazing. Both West and Thompson were born in the early s, same as my grandmothers, but neither one of my grandmothers lived even a tenth of the excitement that these women did. Early on West was married to H. Wells and gave birth to his son, but the marriage did not last.
Though W Both West and Thompson were born in the early s, same as my grandmothers, but neither one of my grandmothers lived even a tenth of the excitement that these women did. Though West did remain with another man for over thirty years, in the end it was not a satisfying relationship. Both women gave birth to a son, both of whom would be troubled largely, they said, because their mothers pushed them away in favor of their careers.
They never spoke after its publication.
At the same time, it was quite accessible and I would highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in feminist literature, literary history, or simply a thought provoking biography. Both attempted to attach themselves to literary geniuses as partners, only to find themselves in abusive relationships. Both women had lost one parent at a very young age. Both women had turbulent and toilsome personal lives, including their relationships with the men they were drawn to. As much as they sought voice and power in the public forum of opinion and ideas, and the independence of mind and money that came with them, Thompson and West craved the comforts of marriage and home.
Even better is her assessment of the place these women hold in literary history, plowing the way for women of succeeding generations. They must never forget, never. Some nuggets from the book: To write was to wield power and control. Who, even today, could argue with Thompson? They projected idealized stereotypes onto their men, and demanded more of them than any man could fulfill. Given their emotional deprivation as children, and their impulse toward social legitimacy, there was no amount of piety for Dorothy, or psychoanalysis for Rebecca, that could compensate for the emotional damage they caused and incurred.
This Kindle edition had at least a couple of typos: Nov 09, Dimity rated it liked it Shelves: I was relieved that the rest of the book was written in a more traditional biographical style. I think the whole premise of the biography as a joint work was a little flawed as well.
I finished the book with the impression that the two women held a casual friendship rekindled at several points in their life, but no enduring relationship was apparent to me. I would expect such a detailed joint biography to be about two people who were closer than Dorothy and Rebecca seemed to be. I was fascinated by the chapters that covered WWII.
Both women, probably Dorothy more so were profoundly affected by the events that led up to and followed WWII. I think WWII was the defining world event for Dorothy, not just because she experienced the peak of her popularity through her wartime columns but because so much of her worldview was stretched by the war. This duo both led fascinating lives but Hertog pays equal attention to their private lives, and the more mundane events were just as compelling to read. The two women both lost parents young and this seemed to affect them profoundly in their adult lives as they relentlessly searched for companions famous and unknown who truly understood them.
Sep 29, JoLynn rated it it was amazing. I won this book through the Goodreads Fist Reads Program. This book asks the question - Can one have everything? Everything being a satisfying career, fame, and a loving well-adjusted family? This parallel biography of West and Thompson will be fascinating to readers interested in the lives of these two particular women.
Both women had long-term associations with other literary titans, in West's case as the mistress of HG Wells, and in Thompson's case, as the wife of Sinclair Lewis.
Both women had sons from these relationships. Both women had lost one parent at a very young age. West and Thompson struggled to fit into 'traditional' roles for women for most of their lives, while refusing to give up their quest for successful and important careers. They were definitely pioneers in women's ongoing pursuit of balancing both career and home life.
Only Thompson ultimately found a partner in her third husband who was supportive of both her career and her troubled son, but by then Thompson's career was in definite decline. Also telling was the fact that both West's and Thompson's sons blamed their problems much more on their mothers than on their famous and even more distant fathers.
Mar 15, Lonni rated it really liked it Shelves: If it were fiction, I would label this a dystopian novel, but it is biography. Two brilliant women, who were friends, sort of, and whose lives were parallel in many ways. Both were very unhappy though brilliant and accomplished. Both married and also had lover If it were fiction, I would label this a dystopian novel, but it is biography. Both married and also had lovers of varying lengths. Thompson married Sinclair Lewis and then competed with him as a writer Rebecca had a long running relationship and a son with H.
Both women's sons were also not well adjusted and suffered from a lack of parenting. I've never read anything by either of them, and now am almost afraid to start! May 01, Lesley marked it as gave-up. I fear that I discovered, flipping forward to the epilogue, that the author says; within the context of contemporary gender stereotypes, neither That somebody could write this in and blame the women rather than problematising their predicament as Smart, ambitious and driven to succeed women in a largely hostile world This is not a book to be lightly set aside.
Apr 24, Valorie Hallinan rated it really liked it. I liked the book. However, the author's thinking was in some respects black and white regarding the motivations and personalities of Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson, especially in terms of how their marriages and romantic attachments choices and outcomes were affected by difficult childhoods and troubled parents. A lot of reference to Freud's theories. I may be misreading the author, but I detected a judgmental tone, as if to say, look at how foolish these women were to become involved with t I liked the book.
I may be misreading the author, but I detected a judgmental tone, as if to say, look at how foolish these women were to become involved with the men they did, they were self-deluded. On the other hand, the author does highlight West's conclusions as she got older that they couldn't help themselves, they were powerless against Eros; they and their partners were egotistical, emotionally needy geniuses.
This is a powerful story about two brilliant women and how their intellects, power, and influence - in those days - seemed to preclude them having happy home and family lives. Mostly disappointed While their were fascinating portions of this book, I had to force myself to finish it. There weren't enough links between Rebecca, Dorothy, and the historical times in which they lived. Instead, there was way too much personal drama, portraying these authors as narcissistic and bitter.
Perhaps they were, but these tedious portrayals overshadowed their talents. May 18, Lois rated it it was amazing.
Dangerous Ambition: Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson: New Women in Search of Love and Power [Susan Hertog] on bahana-line.com *FREE* shipping on . Editorial Reviews. Review. Praise for Susan Hertog's Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Her Life Dangerous Ambition: Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson: New Women in Search of Love and Power - Kindle edition by Susan Hertog. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like.
In her unassuming introduction to this biography of two noted women writers who were both born in the late Victorian era, Susan Hertog expresses the temerity that she felt in assuming to dare attempt to portray the similarities and differences between two outstanding women of their day who both felt compelled to confront the pressing issues of the societies in which they lived. The two women concerned are the famed American journalist and radio broadcaster Dorothy Thompson, revealed in full thro In her unassuming introduction to this biography of two noted women writers who were both born in the late Victorian era, Susan Hertog expresses the temerity that she felt in assuming to dare attempt to portray the similarities and differences between two outstanding women of their day who both felt compelled to confront the pressing issues of the societies in which they lived.
The two women concerned are the famed American journalist and radio broadcaster Dorothy Thompson, revealed in full throttle both in America and as the first female head of a news bureau permanently stationed in Berlin, and the strongly anti-fascist and profoundly humanitarian ultimately Dame Rebecca West, who played such an important role both in the UK and on the European continent. Her Life have both put her in good stead for writing such an ambitious and thoroughly well-researched book as this, to which she appends over endnotes and 10 densely packed pages of selected bibliography.
The text is, in addition, illustrated with numerous black-and-white photographs that provide empathetic insight into the lives of both Thompson and West. Apr 05, False rated it really liked it Shelves: A study of two women, mutual friends, and their time and place in American and British history. The struggles in finding love, supporting family and seeking fame and creative satisfaction in their work.
In the end, the author has to admit, this continues to be a struggle for all women and we can only hope as the generations advance that greater balance is achieved. Excellent study on both women and their work and their loves. Sep 30, Tracy Towley rated it really liked it Shelves: This was a fascinating and extensively researched biography of two very intriguing women.
I didn't know much about either Rebecca West or Dorothy Thompson, but I do believe that this book gave me a comprehensive overview of their good and bad qualities. It's true that neither woman came off as a completely likeable person, but I didn't find this to detract from the appeal of the book. In fact, I enjoyed it all the more because the author clearly held nothing back.
Both women lead dynamic lives, especially considering the time periods in which they lived. Dorothy was an accomplished journalist.
In fact, she was the first reporter to be granted an interview with Adolf Hitler, and was likewise the first reporter expelled from Germany, after she questioned his manhood, breeding and mental stability. Rebecca was extremely prolific, and wrote dozens upon dozens of critiques. She was of the opinion that her female contemporaries were writing the best work, and that the 'establishment' deemed their work as 'minor fiction'. Of course much of this book centers around the love lives of these women, which I wasn't particularly looking forward to - until I discovered that Dorothy was married to Sinclair Lewis, and that Rebecca had a long-term affair and child with H.
The look into the lives of these accomplished authors was quite interesting in its own right, especially as the book followed their successes and falls from grace. I expected there to be more overlap between Rebecca and Dorothy's lives, and I expected that they would be very good friends. As it turned out, while there did seem to be an awful lot of coincidences in their lives, they weren't really close friends. I thought the dual biography setup was interesting, unique and ultimately successful, though it didn't turn out the way I expected it to.
Of course, the book wasn't perfect, and my main issue was the way it jumped around in time. Wells was an inveterate womanizer, and Lewis was an abusive drunk. But it is also true, despite their protestations to the contrary, that West and Thompson had little interest in domesticity or rearing [their] sons.
They were too devoted to bringing their ambitions to fruition. As a result, their relationships with men shattered, and their sons grew angry and vengeful, even as they soared to professional fame. One might say, they were in love with the idea of love, but didn't have the emotional tools to sustain it. The parallel between Thompson and West included having sons who really resented them. Both were pretty neglectful of their sons, but at the same time both were neglected by their own parents, one through abandonment, one through death.
Did you get the sense these two women were exasperated by their sons' inability to flourish nonetheless, like they themselves had? West was exasperated by her son's lack of direction and tenacity, because she, like [his father] Wells, saw Anthony as an extension of herself.
She would not risk admitting that his emotional damage, which was at the root of his inability to flourish, was the result of his illegitimacy for fear of shattering her own psyche. In fact, the one time she did, she was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. But she saw everything. She, who was a master observer of human behavior, with a deep and instinctive knowledge of the dynamic of the mind, could never turn her searchlight inward, perhaps because she could not, despite psychoanalysis, fathom the source of her own emotional distortions.
Yes, she had a tough childhood, but she was his mother; her honesty might have saved their relationship, not to mention his wasted talents in pursuit of revenge. Thompson, on the other hand, neglected her son, Michael, without understanding why. Despite her best intentions, she could not stay at home, and despite loving him deeply, her own lack of mothering had left her without the insight or tools to nurture him.
To complicate the issue, Michael had what we now call learning disabilities, which went undetected until adulthood. The final peg in the coffin of his sad life was that his father, Sinclair Lewis, had neither had the emotional capacity nor the inclination to care about him. Since their legacy is really their work, and not their private lives, can you say what of their work you think still holds up for a modern reader?
Thompson, like so many of her male colleagues, wrote about issues relevant to their times. Their insights can certainly be extrapolated forward, but it would take research and time that many contemporary journalists are either too busy or not inclined to do. West's writing, though of enduring consequence, is as cerebral and wide-ranging as it is beautiful.
In little more than pages, a reader can experience the range and magnificence of her writing. Jessa Crispin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Bookslut.