The Vanderbilt Women: Dynasty of Wealth, Glamour, and Tragedy

Clarice Stasz, Author St. Martin's Press $29.95 (449p) ISBN 978-0-312-06486-0
Many biographers of the rich have not been sympathetic, and they have been particularly ungenerous to the females in such families, dismissing them as social butterflies, suggests Stasz ( American Dreamers ). That the Vanderbilt women by and large must be taken seriously is convincingly proved by this lively scholarly account of the social/financial dynasty from 1650 to the present, with the emphasis on the last century. Of special interest are discussions of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942), a sculptor, who recovered from a singularly unhappy marriage by dedicating herself to a series of male and female lovers and by establishing Manhattan's Whitney Museum of American Art; Alva Smith Vanderbilt (1853-1933), who put aside her frenetic efforts to become New York City's social arbiter to play a significant role in the women's suffrage movement; and today's Gloria, ``the Poor Little Rich Girl,'' subjected to a vicious custody battle as a child, who found contentment in her fourth marriage and a successful business career. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
Paperback - 500 pages - 978-1-58348-727-3
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