The Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas

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9781596914803: The Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas

A long-overdue political biography of Helen Gahagan Douglas―Broadway star, Congresswoman, Nixon nemesis, and forgotten heroine of A merican liberalism.

If Hillary Clinton struggled to crack the glass ceiling in 2008, imagine the challenges that faced Helen Gahagan Douglas. She was a three-term Congresswoman beginning in 1944, and ran for the U .S. Senate against Richard Nixon just three decades after women gained the right to vote. Douglas was also a Broadway star, opera prima donna, friend of FDR, lover of LBJ, and passionate New Dealer. Acclaimed author Sally Denton brings every dimension of this extraordinary woman to life in The Pink Lady, a compelling account of Douglas's incomparable life as stage star, politician, and public intellectual.

A brutal 1950 Senate campaign waged by Republican Congressman Richard Nixon ended Douglas' career as an elected official―Nixon and his henchmen tagged Douglas "The Pink Lady" and, with the help of the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover, made her victim to the same McCarthyist anti-Red hysteria that was sweeping Hollywood. Nixon's savage campaign was the prototype of right-wing smear tactics, a model studied by Lee Atwater and Karl Rove.

Over four decades in politics, Douglas was a torchbearer for progressive ideals, supporting legislation for affordable housing, public education, and social security extension; in foreign policy she fought for nuclear disarmament and the creation of Israel. Denton's rich narrative restores Douglas to her rightful place as a pioneer of American politics.

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About the Author:

Sally Denton is an awardwinning author and investigative journalist. Her books include Passion and Principle, American Massacre, Faith and Betrayal, The Bluegrass Conspiracy, and The Money and the Power (co-written with Roger Morris). She is a Guggenheim fellow and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Review:

“Restores flesh and sinew to a remarkable woman and political personality, who stands as a kind of archetype of today's engaged Hollywood celebrity...compellingly propulsive narrative”—Los Angeles Times

 

“Long before Geraldine Ferraro or Sarah Palin came on the scene, Douglas was the

first woman politician to be seriously considered as vice presidential timber, and Denton’s absorbing portrait of this courageous politician sheds welcome light on an oft-maligned public figure.”Booklist

 

“Sally Denton does a handsome job exploring Helen Gahagan’s early life as an actress and singer as well as her later political activism... Denton displays a solid grasp of the ignominious politics of McCarthy-era America. Eye-opening, entertaining portrait of a fascinating proto-feminist.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“Embracing her subject with verve and imagination, Sally Denton gives us the preposterously colorful life and times of an American heroine. Helen Gahagan Douglas was, truly, a woman for all seasons. You can’t read about her without thinking: They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.”—Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers

 

“Sally Denton has rendered great service to history by vividly describing the story of Helen Gahagan Douglas and her lifetime effort to expand the scope and meaning of American democracy. This Irish woman from Brooklyn not only had a love affair with the natural world, but she was a champion of liberal causes such as environmental protection, nuclear sanity, and the long list of humanitarian issues favored by Eleanor Roosevelt. In the process Douglas became a symbolic figure.”—Stewart Udall, former U.S. Representative and Secretary of the Interior, 1961-1969

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