Timeless: Love, Morgenthau, and Me

3.56 avg rating
( 104 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780374535292: Timeless: Love, Morgenthau, and Me
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

"Words by the millions have been printed about you, but none have revealed your real life, your secret life--which is that you belong to me."

In this beautifully rendered literary memoir, Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, tells the intimate story of her marriage to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, one of the great men of our time. After Lucinda interviewed Bob for The New York Times in 1973, the two took a while to understand that they had fallen in love. Franks was a self-styled radical who marched with protesters and chained herself to fences. Morgenthau was a famous lawyer, a symbol of the establishment, who could have helped put her in jail. She was twenty-six. He was fifty-three. Now, thirty-six years into a marriage that was never supposed to happen, one between two people as deeply in love as they are different, they are living proof that opposites can forge an unbreakable life bond.
In Timeless, Franks offers a confidential tour of their unconventional years together, years that are both hilarious and interlaced with suspense. At the same time, she takes us behind the scenes to reveal the untold stories behind some of Morgenthau's most famous cases, many of which she helped him brainstorm for.
A compelling memoir with piercing insights into how a relationship grows and develops over a lifetime, Timeless grants us an enlightening window into one of New York's most famous yet defiant and iconoclastic couples, and the trials and successes of their union.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Lucinda Franks is the author of a memoir, My Father's Secret War. A former staff writer for The New York Times, she has also written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the life and death of Diana Oughton, a member of the Weathermen. A graduate of Vassar College, Franks lives in New York City with her husband, the former longtime district attorney for New York County Robert M. Morgenthau.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

 

The last thing I wanted to do was to marry my husband. Bob Morgenthau was a widower almost three decades older, came with five children, a cat, and two dogs, and resided in a suburban house barely touched since the death of his wife five years before. It looked like this: On the lowboy in the hall was a mound of unopened mail that a casual breeze could have sent cascading to the floor. The chintz sofa with its fat golden flowers had gone vapid, the illusion of a spring bounty passed to winter gorse. Little crystal bowls were filled with shriveled nuts.

Not only that, this man, the stereotype of the bourgeoisie, had the power to put me in jail.

And this was supposed to be the man of my dreams?

I had barely escaped incarceration anyway, emptying balloons of pig’s blood on draft files in various cities, trespassing on government property, and chaining myself to the wrought-iron White House fence.

We couldn’t have been more different. In 1961, he had become the formidable U.S. attorney under JFK, sending away members of the Mafia, corrupt politicians, corporate thieves. In 1961, I was pubescent, a budding radical drawn to the black civil rights movement.

By the 1970s, I had become a young woman in a state of rage. I felt a gnawing shame whenever I thought of Vietnam, which was much of the time. An ethos of death permeated my generation. We all knew or knew of someone killed in this excruciatingly stupid war, and our heads were filled with images of what we had done: the ears of Vietnamese women sliced off for souvenirs, babies in flames, faces bubbled black with napalm. That old American men (our parents) had sent fifty thousand young American men (their sons) to die alone a million miles away because of this fallacious domino theory that had quickly collapsed on itself made me crazy. That long after we were losing the war we were still dropping almost three million tons of bombs on Cambodia made me crazy. That we had killed student protesters for no good reason made me especially crazy. I hated my country. If you were intelligent and young, you were trying to figure out how to be sane in an insane world.

It never occurred to me that a member of the establishment, a man born into the same culture as the deluded architects of the Vietnam War, would be the answer. Bob Morgenthau came from one of New York’s prominent and well-to-do German Jewish families who were steeped in politics. I came from a Boston suburb that I loathed, born of an upper-middle-class New England family, thoroughly steeped in Gentile society. He was part of the status quo, and I was a hippie who, in spite of bending to the pleas of my mother to go to charm school and become a Boston debutante, was still ragged at the edges.

I let it all hang out, while he calmly kept it in. He was cautious, steady, a sloop balanced at dead center. I was guileless, eager to take risks, a catamaran racing breakneck through every channel I encountered. While he was aggressively enforcing the law, I had become dedicated to breaking it. The very notion that we should have come together was an oxymoron.

Certainly we appeared to be opposites, but in truth we were hauntingly alike. We were both born of busy parents who were oriented more toward the world than the home. Bob practically raised himself, appearing to be the good middle child but in truth secretly roaring about playing outrageous pranks. When he would confess, his mother assumed he was joking and never gave it another thought. In a more subversive way, I had done the same thing. My father, overly protective, was generally too physically absent to address this; my mother was overly strict, but only when she was paying attention. I would sneak out late at night and commit a variety of sins.

The backdrop of my childhood was the sterile, repressively elegant town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, home to the anti-Communist John Birch Society, where the men wore yellow pants and red jackets and where the lawns were cut as short as their crew cuts. On my fifth birthday, I remember sitting with my mother on the hot granite of our neighbor’s stone wall, having seen a movie of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. “Mom,” I asked, “why aren’t there any Negroes on our street?” She looked at me, stunned, and replied, “The only thing you have to worry about is yourself, young lady.”

My father had come back from World War II broken, full of secrets, and incapable of rekindling his love for my mother. He became an alcoholic with a wandering eye, and she gained almost a hundred pounds. My parents had noisy physical fights. Sometimes I would lock myself into my baby sister’s nursery, fearing for us both. As we grew and my mother’s marriage further crumbled, the contempt and resentment she felt for my father were displaced onto us. Her talent for cutting us down was unequaled and sometimes so subtle, we didn’t know what was happening. When I was nine, I began running away from home, but the police would always find me hiding in a grove of trees that passed for the town’s woodland.

Sometimes my mother would forget to pick me up at school or to cook dinner for us while still being intensely ambitious for me, demanding that I bring home high grades on an empty stomach. When I didn’t, she’d forbid me to go to the soda shop, pajama parties, dancing parties. I might as well have been in a federal witness protection program.

When I was in seventh grade, I took up with older intellectual kids with progressive ideas. To my father’s amused dismay, I brought The Communist Manifesto to the dinner table and proceeded to hold forth on the virtues of Lenin over Kropotkin.

By the time I was sixteen, I had learned how to escape my mother. At night I sneaked out with my friends to smoke weed on the country-club green. By day, I would unobtrusively saunter around the back of the house and then race down the block, climb on the back of my boyfriend’s Kawasaki motorcycle, and roar up to Boston.

My mother sought to tame me by enrolling me in the socially enviable Junior League. To my delight, the league had just taken on a volunteer project sight unseen, because it was sponsored by Harvard University. Wellmet was an experimental halfway house for volunteer students and newly released mental patients located in bohemian Cambridge. By day, we worked with the patients, and by night we slept together on cots in the attic, breaking more social mores than the patients themselves. The experiment was a success, however; we got patients out into jobs and apartments, and in spite of my mother’s idle threats not to pay for my college, I stayed on at Wellmet through my senior year.

When I finally entered Vassar College, I helped found a chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which intensified protests against Vietnam and the draft. I had established myself in a generation whose outer rebellion reflected an inner one, a breaking away from our conventional, hypocritical, overly possessive postwar parents. When I graduated from Vassar, I felt blessedly free, a member of the exhilarating, dream-struck counterculture whose motto was “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.”

And then our heroes, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, who had been predicted to defeat Nixon for president and finally end the war, were assassinated. With them died the hope that the system could be changed from within. Leaving America seemed to be the only choice. As soon as I graduated from college, I used the money I had saved over the years babysitting, boarded a rickety ship relegated to students who paid cheap fares, and steamed to England to live among saner people. There, I got an apartment with a bunch of fellow exiles in London. Luckily, I had already published a short story, and that helped me get a job at the major wire service United Press International.

I was the only newswoman in the organization’s London bureau and was paid as much as a coffee runner. I bought a used motor scooter on which I happily drove to work. By day, I decoded cables from reporters in third-world countries, written in a shortened garble to save the company cents per word, and by night I dallied at the Anarchist Club, one of England’s counterparts to the SDS. I went out and found my own scoops, and since I was not yet a feminist, my skeptical boss finally gave me praise of the highest order: “You write so well, I don’t even think of you as a woman anymore.”

By the time I was twenty-four, I had been nominated by UPI for the Pulitzer Prize. I was the youngest woman to win the prize and the first to get it for the prestigious category of national reporting. The award was for a series of articles that, like all top-rate stories, was the result of hard work, some skill, and, most important, a huge amount of luck.

It began in May 1970, when a Bryn Mawr graduate named Diana Oughton, who had become a member of the violent antiwar group Weatherman, accidentally blew herself up in a Greenwich Village town house turned into a bomb factory. America was stunned; I was fascinated. Few knew that there were bright, educated children from decent families making crude bombs designed to destroy everything their parents represented. Indeed, psychological analysis might say that as products of these parents they were trying to kill themselves.

After the explosion, my mother went into one of her uniquely effective crisis modes: she had ambitions for me, and she immediately contacted a friend from her hometown of Kankakee, Illinois, who knew Diana’s parents. The friend, who was a fan of my writing, told the Oughtons of my similarity to Diana in background and antiwar sentiments. They agreed to talk to me in hopes I could explain why she had turned against everything they represented.

So within a day, I packed a bag and headed back to the United States.

I stayed with the Oughtons, in Diana’s room, and tried to help Mr. Oughton understand the depth of the passions our generation had against the war and the hypocrisy of the culture we grew up in. He concluded we were all in the throes of an “intellectual hysteria.”

I then followed Diana’s steps through the heady underground, full of safe houses and dangerous plans; I ended up identifying with her so much that I almost tossed my notebook in the trash and joined the groups that shaped her. Everything about her resonated emotionally: she was a good woman, educated, sensitive, highly intelligent, and, like me, drawn to making sacrifices for larger causes. The crucial difference was that Diana had made the ultimate sacrifice and here I was, exploiting her for my own success within the establishment she hated. I felt ashamed.

I ended up deciding not to join Weatherman and to write its story instead. I was clearly more ambitious than I thought, more desirous of pleasing my mother. The five-part series about Diana’s odyssey, written with Thomas Powers, was published in some five hundred newspapers around the world. It made me even more uneasy about how intent I was to succeed in the bureaucracy that I was supposed to abhor. I got scant peace of mind by slipping stories sympathetic to the radicals onto the wires.

*   *   *

In those days in the early 1970s, I had long corn-silk hair, parted in the middle the way Joan Baez did it. I was a fair-skinned, blue-eyed blonde with a round, dimpled face, a five-foot-six-inch curvy endomorph. At the back of my closet hung the Scottish tweed suits with matching hats made for me by my Republican mother; instead, I wore sailor’s bell-bottoms and sandals with straps that crossed halfway up my legs. I aspired to being “cool,” but to my frustration, every tremor of my heart registered itself on my face. I put myself “out there,” according to those who observed me. Whimsical and prone to doing the unexpected, I had a bent toward banana-peel humor.

I was also audacious, idealistic, and aspired to be a person of high principles.

I had heard that after Bob Morgenthau had returned from World War II, in spite of his wry, iconoclastic nature, he moved easily into his parents’ powerful social and political sphere. He married, proceeded to have a passel of children, and rose quickly in politics. With a law degree from Yale, he went into private practice for thirteen years, and by the time he was forty-one, he had been appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York by the man he had campaigned for, President Kennedy.

Meanwhile, Lyndon Johnson’s massive escalation of the Vietnam War inflamed Americans, and the protests and riots drove him from seeking a second term. When Nixon was elected president, Bob was investigating Nixon’s dealings with Swiss bank accounts. Nixon tried to get rid of him to pick his own U.S. attorney, but Bob stubbornly held on for a year. Twice he made bold if unsuccessful bids to become governor of New York State, attempting to take on the behemoth Nelson Rockefeller. But in 1974, with a reputation as one of the city’s leading public officials, he was easily elected district attorney of New York.

He was widely known as being audacious, idealistic, and highly principled.

*   *   *

In early 1973, I was about to leave for a transfer from London to UPI headquarters in New York after my father called me, deeply distressed: my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he was helpless, didn’t know what to do about her disease or how to tell her she had it. He asked me to come home, back to Wellesley. So I had asked UPI for a transfer to New York, rather than to Boston, so I could be near them, but not too near.

In London, I had found myself unexpectedly harboring a draft resister. Roger Neville Williams had called attention to himself by writing the first book telling the story of war resisters exiled in Canada and Europe. Thus, this twenty-five-year-old man from a small, unsophisticated town in Ohio was high on the FBI wanted list.

We had bumped into each other while crossing the Hammersmith Bridge in a thick, sharp fog that had trapped the coal smoke coming from the terraced houses of southern London. Just the kind of night beloved by Jack the Ripper. I was grateful when he offered to walk me to my apartment across the Thames in Richmond. We proceeded to see each other for a few months, pub-hopping on the banks of the Thames, fervently talking politics over pints of lager. Before I knew it, he had arrived at my digs with four suitcases.

When I left for New York, he followed me, uninvited. Angry and domineering, he was possessed by a loathing for Nixon, and the former president occupied the greater part of our lives together. But the sanguine side of this is that I knew he loved me; after all, he had risked arrest to return with me to America. I thought I loved him too, sort of.

Doctrinaire in his hatred of the rich, he nevertheless blithely overruled me when I wanted to live in funky Greenwich Village with the radicals and misfits; he insisted we live in the posh, established Upper East Side. I had never thought him a hypocrite, but I did now. Were others in the movement guilty of such mixed-up thinking? If so, the Cultural Revolution was doomed. As we set up house on East Eighty-First Street, Roger ordained that since we were basically political anarchists of the Kropotkin breed, we should “divide the bowl.” In other words, he, who was nearly penniless, should share my bank account. I thought this sounded fair and true and practical, especially since I had never shown much interest in balancing my checking account. Roger was so highly organized, this would be an asset. I began to look askance when he ended up keeping an “Accounts” book that allocated a certain...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780374280802: Timeless: Love, Morgenthau, and Me

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0374280800 ISBN 13:  9780374280802
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books, 2014
Hardcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Franks, Lucinda
Published by Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus, Giroux, NY (2014)
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Valley Books
(Amherst, MA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus, Giroux, NY, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. 390pp. Photos. Size: 8vo - over 7" - 9" tall. Seller Inventory # 070231

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 5.36
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.95
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

2.

Franks Lucinda
Published by MacMillan Publishers
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description MacMillan Publishers. Condition: New. Brand New. Seller Inventory # 0374535299

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.87
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.60
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

3.

Franks, Lucinda
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (2015)
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2015. PAP. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # KB-9780374535292

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.91
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

4.

Franks, Lucinda
Published by Sarah Crichton Books
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Mediaoutlet12345
(Springfield, VA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Sarah Crichton Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0374535299 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Seller Inventory # NATARAJB1FI1283559

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 10.78
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

5.

Franks, Lucinda
Published by Sarah Crichton Books
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Qwestbooks COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Sarah Crichton Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0374535299. Seller Inventory # Z0374535299ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.75
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

6.

Franks, Lucinda
Published by Sarah Crichton Books
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Best Bates
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Sarah Crichton Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0374535299. Seller Inventory # Z0374535299ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.75
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

7.

Franks, Lucinda
Published by Sarah Crichton Books
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Bookhouse COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Sarah Crichton Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0374535299. Seller Inventory # Z0374535299ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.75
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

8.

Franks, Lucinda
Published by Sarah Crichton Books
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
BookShop4U
(PHILADELPHIA, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Sarah Crichton Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0374535299. Seller Inventory # Z0374535299ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.75
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

9.

Franks, Lucinda
Published by Sarah Crichton Books
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Mega Buzz
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Sarah Crichton Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0374535299. Seller Inventory # Z0374535299ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.75
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

10.

Franks, Lucinda
Published by Sarah Crichton Books
ISBN 10: 0374535299 ISBN 13: 9780374535292
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Booklot COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Sarah Crichton Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0374535299. Seller Inventory # Z0374535299ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.75
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book