cover image Dr Laura

Dr Laura

Vickie Bane. Thomas Dunne Books, $23.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20530-0

In a blow-by-blow biography, Bane, a reporter for People, depicts radio talk-show moralist and bestselling author Schlessinger (Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, etc.) as volatile and vindictive, not to mention as a hypocritical violator of her own tenets. Never having spoken with Schlessinger nor her husband and manager, Lew Bishop, Bane relies on interviews with Schlessinger's colleagues, her former friends and published sources in this workmanlike narrative. Though many of the core criticisms aimed at Schlessinger have been aired previously, notably in Leslie Bennetts's 1998 Vanity Fair article, Bane expands on Bennetts's charges. Among them: although Schlessinger received her doctorate in physiology, not psychology, she persists in calling herself ""Dr."" on the air (apparently she does have a license as a marriage and family therapist); she lied about her sexual relationship with mentor Bill Ballance (who has produced nude photos of her); she preaches respect for parents but has criticized her own; she advises mothers to stay at home but worked part-time after her own son was born; and she schemed to discredit talk-show rival Barbara DeAngelis, among others. While acknowledging that the talk-show host has been lauded by various organizations and that her basic message about the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions has value, Bane suggests that Schlessinger's moralism and harsh treatment of those who call in to her program stem more from her troubled youth and the demands of show biz than expertise. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Madeleine Morel of 2M Communications. (Aug.)