One of the enduring mysteries of recent decades was the murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer, the well-born, beautiful, rebellious, and intelligent ex-wife of a CIA official, who was killed on a quiet Georgetown towpath in 1964. Mary Meyer was a mistress of JFK, and after her death, news that she had kept a diary set off a tense search for the document by CIA spymaster James Jesus Angelton as well as Mary's brother-in-law, journalist Ben Bradlee. But the crime was never solved, and today her life and death are still a source of fascination, as Nina Burleigh will reveal in a book that looks at a heady, sometimes glamorous period in the nation's capitol, and at a woman who embodied the grace and turbulence of her times.
On October 12, 1964, socialite Mary Meyer was shot to death along a wooded path where she was taking her afternoon walk. Ordinarily such a crime wouldn't attract the attention of the CIA's head of counterintelligence, but Meyer was no ordinary Washington socialite. Born into a wealthy, bohemian family in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Meyer studied at Vassar, worked as a journalist during World War II, married--and later divorced--a war hero, became a proto-feminist, experimented with drugs, and had an affair with John F. Kennedy. When Meyer decided to try LSD, she didn't get it from some random dealer and trip in the park. Instead she turned to Timothy Leary himself--and, evidence suggests, she might have eventually shared her stash with the President of the United States.
Shortly after Meyer was found dead, her diaries were spirited away: her brother-in-law, Ben Bradlee, turned the documents over to the aforementioned CIA official, James Jesus Angleton, believing that it was in her, and others', best interest that her secrets die with her. A Very Private Woman pieces together some of these secrets, and hints at many more. It's a compelling story not only of a woman who lived at the edges of power, influence, and history, but who lived in and was buffeted by some of the most significant cultural changes of the second half of the 20th century. --Lisa Higgins
" Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil meets Camelot."
-- The Washington Post Book World
"Power is so utterly fascinating. Sometimes it's used for evil purposes, like the kind of power that has silenced the telling of Mary Pinchot Meyer's mysterious murder for over three decades. In A Very Private Woman, Nina Burleigh has finally told this tragic tale of a privileged beauty with friends in high places."
"A superbly crafted, evocative glimpse of an adventurous spirit whose grisly murder remains a mystery."
-- San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"Proves that every Washington sex scandal is juicy in its own way."
"Nina Burleigh has dissected Washington's most intriguing murder mystery and produced a captivating biography, a thriller, and an insightful portrait of Georgetown in its golden presidential age."
--Christopher Ogden, bestselling author of Life of the Party: The Life of Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman
"Provocative, erudite...pure Georgetown noir."
-- The New York Observer
"A rich array of real-life characters."
-- The New York Times Book Review
From the Back Cover