Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Ghost of a Chance:: A Memoir Hardcover – May 28, 1996


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$5.75 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$20.00

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A strange and compelling mix of celebrity bio and social history, Ghost of a Chance is the autobiography of bandleader Peter Duchin. The son of an even more famous bandleader, Eddy Duchin, Peter Duchin was sent off to be raised by the friends of his socialite mother after her death. Those friends just happened to be the Harrimans, Averell and Marie. After watching "The Eddy Duchin Story," the Hollywood film version of his (biological) father's life, the younger Duchin recalls feeling "pretty beat up and confused." The same can be said of his life in general, but that's what happens when your paternal legacy includes one father who ranked among the top entertainers of an era and another who happened to be one of the richest and most important world figures of a century.

From Publishers Weekly

Pianist, conductor and composer Duchin's mother died in 1937 when he was only a few days old and he never saw much of his father, famed bandleader Eddie Duchin. In spite of this, he had a privileged childhood, and, as he recalls it here, his life has never been less than charmed. Brought up by Averell Harriman, the former governor of New York, and his wife, Marie, on their estate, he studied music at Hotchkiss and Yale but didn't think seriously of a career until after a carefree year in France and an easy stint in the army. Once he decided to follow in his father's footsteps, however, name and connections made everything easy. Before long, his band was providing music for presidential inauguration balls, state dinners and society events around the world. In this lightweight autobiography written with freelancer Michener, Duchin tells of his life with the Harrimans, his year of bohemian living in Paris, his two marriages and his lifelong association with the rich and famous. The only bitter note is his account of the machinations of Averell Harriman's second wife, Pamela, currently the U.S. ambassador to France, who he claims destroyed his close relationship with his "second father." Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (May 28, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679414185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679414186
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By kellytwo on September 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Do you remember cafe society? Do you remember a time when celebrity was synonymous with personality and not just notoriety? When gossip was DE-licious rather than MA-licious? When you hear the names of Vanderbilt, Kennedy, Whitney, Harriman, etc., do you immediately conjure up visions in your mind of huge estates and bigger-than-life sporting heroes?
Now in his sixties, Peter Duchin's memoirs quite naturally include the great names and personalities of the thirties and forties, as that was when his famous father ruled the keyboards as America's premier dance pianist. His society-born mother died within a week of his birth, and young Peter himself was given only a 'ghost of a chance' at survival.
In a time when godparents had a viable position in life, Peter was therefore wealthier than most; Marie and Averill Harriman took on the raising of the young boy, while his father served meritoriously in the Army, and then toured with his band in order to support himself and his son.
There cannot be anyone of any degree of celebrity who is not mentioned kindly in these pages--with one exception, Pamela Churchill Hayward Harriman. Ms Harriman, later the U.S. Ambassador to France, married often and well, and was never a friend to Duchin or his loved ones.
Young people of today will only shake their heads in wonder at the tales told here, and the lifestyles, now sadly vanished, of the truly 'rich and famous'. Movie stars, classical musicians, sportsmen, artists, dancers, restaurateurs, politicians, writers--they're all here--even the Vanderbilt's own family ghost!
You'll love this look at a world not likely to be seen again anytime soon. I surely did.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 1996
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a marvelous read!

Peter Duchin, son of the famous bandleader and a very distinguished musician and orchestra leader in his own right, has led an astonishingly interesting life, and has written about it gracefully, ruefully and with a becoming modesty.

His mother died a few days after he was born, and of course his father was always on the road, so he was raised from infancy by his late mother's best friend, Marie Harriman, and her husband Averell, and knew many of the most influential Americans and Europeans of their generation.

He went to Yale, chased skirts and immersed himself in music in late-50s Paris, and was present at the best parties in New York. Along the way he never lost his perspective; he is witty and engaging and never self-important.

The politically aware will especially enjoy his accounts of life in the Harriman household and especially his no-holds-barred account of Averell's relationship with Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward (later Pamela Harriman), who made a name for herself raising money for Democratic candidates and was rewarded by President Clinton with the U.S. Ambassadorship to France. Pamela Harriman, it happens, is also the former stepmother of Duchin's wife Brooke Hayward, and neither Peter nor Brooke make any secret of their scorn for the courtesan who seduced Leland Hayward and Averell Harriman.

I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir and recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in 20th century American cultural history.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By jdempsey@gordon.cahners.com on March 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
Peter Duchin provides the reader with a guided tour of his often confusing but privileged life. There are several marvelous anecdotes about his life as a society bandleader. His one chapter on his view from the stage reveals much about the upper crust of American culture. For those interested in tid bits on celebrities, Mr. Duchin does not disappoint. He has known many famous people - in fact he had an especially close friendship with Jackie Onassis - and he shares his thoughts and experiences in those circles. "Ghost Of A Chance" is a fun book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Orlando Garcia on February 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Great Book and a great life. Peter's book cronicles not only the life he has led, but also a world that, for the most part, no longer exsists. We are ALL poorer for that loss.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Descedent of Confederate Soldiers on April 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was introduced to 'Ghost of a Chance: A Memoir' by the author himself -- and obtained a copy from Amazon. Peter Duchin is a talented fellow, and surprisingly candid in his memoir.

Bob Swain
NYC
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mkorol on November 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was new and arrived in a timely fashion. I have enjoyed reading it as I am a fan of both Peter Duchin and his father Eddy Duchin.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very good biography. I remember Eddy Duchin and his music vividly from my childhood. Peter has written a very interesting story about his father and about his own life as well. Eddy was a part of what I look at as the "glory days of music". Peter is certainly a talented musician as well as a gifted writer.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: peter duchin book