Alice Roosevelt Longworth, From White House Princess to Washington Power Broker

Book - 2007
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Baker & Taylor
A detailed portrait of Teddy Roosevelt's daughter relates such facts as her tempestuous teen years and flouting of social conventions in order to promote women's rights, her infidelity-tested marriage to Speaker of the House Nicholas Longworth, and her sharp criticism of FDR's New Deal programs. 30,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
At the dawn of the twentieth century and the age of media celebrity, a new figure in the White House gave Americans a larger-than-life idol to root for, full of color and character. It wasn't the rough-riding new president, Teddy Roosevelt, but his outrageous and outrageously charming teenage daughter, Alice. From the moment she strode into town - carrying a snake and dangling a cigarette - to the image of her seven decades later, entertaining Republican and Democratic presidents in Washington's most celebrated salon, Alice Roosevelt Longworth was literally a legend in her own time.
This new biography - the first in twenty years - is a richly entertaining portrait of America's most memorable first daughter. Alice in fact strode across the whole twentieth century, living her entire life on the political stage and in the public eye, earning the nickname "the other Washington monument." She grew up knowing Civil War veterans, lived through two world wars, helped put the roar in the Roaring Twenties, and campaigned against her cousin Franklin's New Deal. Smoking, gambling, and dressing flamboyantly, she flouted social conventions and opened the door for other women to do the same. Her barbed tongue was infamous, but whenever she talked, powerful people listened, as she had one of the most astute political minds of her age. She advised her father; her husband, Nicholas Longworth, who was the Speaker of the House; and her lover, William Borah, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the most powerful man in Washington. Using love letters and other documents disclosed for the first time, Stacy Cordery provides scandalous proof of the real father of Alice's child as well as evidence of her other previously unknown love affairs.
Alice Roosevelt Longworth was for eight decades the social doyenne in a town where socializing was state business. Politicians, diplomats, journalists, and the famous and infamous of every stripe clamored to be invited to her teas. Meetings in her drawing room helped to change the course of history, from undermining the League of Nations to boosting Richard Nixon's fortunes.
Probing far beyond gossip and witticism, Cordery restores the effervescent, intelligent, and unpredictable Alice to her central role as one of the most influential women in American society and politics.

& Taylor

A portrait of Teddy Roosevelt's daughter relates such facts as her tempestuous teen years and flouting of social conventions in order to promote women's rights, her infidelity-tested marriage to Nicholas Longworth, and her criticism of FDR's New Deal programs.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2007
ISBN: 9780670018338
Branch Call Number: BIO Longworth, A 2007
Characteristics: xiv, 590 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Mar 02, 2019

Maybe the best opening sentence and paragraph I have ever read; no one's life start or life story is more deserving of such an introduction.


In mid-January of 2018, I was reading all about the obelisk-like structure that can’t be missed in the heart of DC, "Washington’s Monument" by John Steele Gordon. At the same time a year later, I was reading of “the other Washington Monument,” standing equally erect, at least as hard to miss, and even more impervious: Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

Stacy Cordery has done a masterful job of presenting the rebellious girl-turned political power player, a woman who determinedly made a name for herself—several, in fact—that rivaled those of her famous father and cousin. Alice’s story is compelling, quite literally, from day one. The first-born child of one of America’s most popular presidents, her entry into this world was immediately marked by tragedy and followed by great absence. But the life Alice made for herself ensured she would never be truly alone or forgotten.

I have a found a new favorite book (at least one of my top favorites) in Cordery’s "Alice", due to some extent to the author’s relatable storytelling with just enough recondite words to keep me riveted to her prose. This also tied in splendidly with my presidential biography mission, as her life spans nearly a hundred years, and since young adulthood she interacted with most of the presidents and their families. Her wit and wisdom continued to develop over time, and she always turned heads, even among world leaders.

A Goodreads reader gave up about a third of the way through the book, saying they couldn’t take Alice anymore. I understand, and admit she may not be for everybody. As a young lady she claimed to be poor and alone, a loathing of self and circumstance that many a girl encounters. But she comes off instead as a spoiled brat—but spoiled with wealth and fame, definitely not with love; in her youth, at least. Her marriage to Nicholas Longworth is both unexpected and hard to comprehend. The couple has a Rhett- and Scarlett-like relationship: I was never sure what they saw in each other, or if they ever really loved each other. Theirs was certainly a marriage of convenience.

The problem with becoming a nonagenarian is that you have to see a lot of people you love die before you; sometimes even children. Alice was no stranger to death, but she took each one in stride, as she did everything else in her remarkable life.

I was moved by this biography more than I have been since reading David McCullough’s "John Adams' in 2016, and was captivated by its details more than any other since Doris Kearns Goodwin’s "Team of Rivals" in 2017. To experience the changing of American politics and life in a broader sense in the twentieth century, or to learn about a fascinating woman both ahead of her time and fighting against it, find a copy of this book. If you can get past her incorrigible youth, I am sure that, like me, you will fall in love with Alice Roosevelt.

Aug 20, 2012

Stacy Cordery is an outstanding biographical writer. I checked out Alice because I read her book about Juliette Gordon Low and Alice was a supporter of the Girl Scout movement. These personal stories of women are so very important to weave into our history and give us a fresh perspective. I highly recommend this book and author.


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