The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty

Alex Jones, Author, Susan E. Tifft, With Summit Books $24.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-63167-3
Each succeeding generation of the Bingham clan, Kentucky's self-styled ``First Family'' and owners of a progressive newspaper empire that crumbled in 1986, considered itself hexed by a dark family secret. When fabulously wealthy Mary Lily Flagler, wife of Robert Worth Bingham, died in 1917, rumors circulated that he had murdered her. But this enthralling, juicy, prodigiously researched saga presents compelling evidence that she died from cardiovascular syphilis--and that she knew she had the ailment when she married her cruelly unforgiving husband. Her stepson, ``patriarch'' Barry Bingham Sr., dominated the family with manipulative cunning while remaining emotionally aloof. Generally evenhanded in sorting out the claims of mutually antagonistic Bingham scions, this husband-wife author team (Tifft is a Time associate editor, Jones a New York Times reporter) offers withering portrayals of ``Baby Bear'' Barry Jr., who carried his ideals to ridiculous extremes, and of Sallie Bingham, limned as a highhanded, comically inept businesswoman whose self-proclaimed feminism overlays festering childhood wounds. Photos. Author tour. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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