There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America

Amy Argetsinger. One Signal, $28 (300p) ISBN 978-1-982123-39-0
Argetsinger, the Washington Post’s style editor, debuts with an earnest, gossip-fueled history of the Miss America pageant. An unabashed admirer of the pageant, Argetsinger details its origins in the 1920s as a promotion to draw tourists to Atlantic City during prohibition, and lovingly skewers such beauty pageant clichés as baton-twirling (no twirler has ever won the contest) and contestants’ calls for “world peace.” Profiles of well-known winners including Vanessa Williams, Lee Meriwether (who starred on TV’s Barnaby Jones), and Bess Myerson (still the only Jewish Miss America) add color and insight, while Argetsinger keeps careful track of how political and cultural trends have affected the contest. For example, when former winner and Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson (who had accused her boss of sexual harassment) took over the pageant in 2018, she ended the swimsuit portion of the competition. Argetsinger also documents the diversity of winners’ platforms, which have ranged from sexual abstinence to AIDS education; profiles coaches, chaperones, and CEOs; and documents the pageant’s recent money troubles. Pageant fans will appreciate this good-natured portrait of an American institution that’s seen its fair share of criticism. Agent: Howard Yoon, the Ross Yoon Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/25/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-3132-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-3134-4
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