Alice: A Review
March 5, 2008, 10:20 am
Filed under: Books | Tags: ,

Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, From White House Princess to Washington Power Broker, by Stacy Cordery.

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Alice Roosevelt Longworth was the eldest daughter of the great Theodore Roosevelt, the spawn of his first marriage. Her life began with two deaths: that of her mother and her grandmother 2 days after her own birth. Theodore never really recovered from this, even though he remarried and reproduced a bunch more times.

Alice was the Washington Bad Girl before it was cool, and while it was still classy. She wore big hats while shocking her father, instead of midriff baring tops and cheap beer. She was an uncontested beauty that enthralled the country. In response to her teenage rebellion, her father reportedly said, “I can be president of the United States — or — I can attend to Alice. I cannot possibly do both!”

Her father was an imposing man in Washington,  but only for a short time. He died at age 60, in 1919, while his daughter lived on in Washington. She eventually received the nickname of “The Other Washington Monument”. Her salon was the most efficient and entertaining way of getting into the Washington scene. If you wanted to be involved in government, you needed to pay homage to Alice, and more importantly, you needed to get her to like you. She even attended Tricia Nixon’s wedding at the White House at age 87, 65 years after her own in the same place.

She was a a bright, well-read, sharp-tongued woman. Her favorite saying was on a pillow: “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, come sit here by me.” A remarkable life of a remarkable woman, and an amazing overview of politics and culture over the course of the 20th century, this book is an informative but pleasurable read. Highly recommended for history/political buffs, as well as for anyone looking for a good laugh.

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