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A Lady, First: My Life in the Kennedy White House and the American Embassies of Paris and Rome Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142001597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142001592
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #863,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her effervescent memoir, Baldrige, ambassador of etiquette, writes, "I disliked unfulfilled passions." She graduated Vassar in the mid-1940s and then, blessed with means, moxie and a voracious appetite for learning, she pursued her passions and led a life that was anything but ordinary for women at that time. Joining the U.S. Foreign Service in her 20s, she served in Paris as social secretary to Evangeline Bruce, the American ambassador's wife, and later to the U.S. ambassador in Rome, Clare Boothe Luce. These two women, Baldrige says, were among her greatest teachers. She tells of her subsequent work as the first female executive at Tiffany's under Walter Hoving, until the White House beckoned in 1960. For three years, she worked feverishly as social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy until, overworked and contemplating the advice of Joe Kennedy, she quit. She soon opened her own, hugely successful PR firm in Chicago and then moved to New York, marrying in her mid-30s and having two children. With her plate already overflowing, she took on volunteering, lecturing, writing for newspapers and magazines, and writing books on etiquette and her experiences. A life lived so fully and at such a frenetic pace is scarcely to be believed at first, until one takes into account Baldrige's spirited will and work ethic. "I had always thought I was Wonder Woman without the steel bra." Readers may be disappointed by the gentle nature of the gossip and lack of scandal, but Baldrige's insight, humor and vivid encounters are sure to enthrall. Baldrige is an exemplary role model for women because she opened doors by refusing to accept that they were closed. (Oct 15) Forecast: If this sells, which it should, it will be not for revealing any secrets about Jackie Kennedy but for Baldrige's own admirable life.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Many know that Baldrige was Jackie Kennedy's White House social secretary and that she is the author of numerous etiquette and style books (e.g., Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to the New Manners for the 90's, 1990). What may not be so widely known is how she obtained the credentials to qualify for the White House position and become known as the late 20th century's etiquette expert. When she was fresh from a graduate program in international relations in Geneva, Baldrige served as the social secretary to ambassador and Mrs. David Bruce in Paris from 1948 to 1951 and then to the indomitable Clare Boothe Luce, ambassador to Italy, from 1953 to 1956. In this memoir, Baldrige tells in humorous and self-deprecating style about her service in those high-powered households. She fondly recalls memories of her White House years and the Kennedy family and relates many details of her subsequent career in public relations and publishing. Mainly an entertaining memoir with little discussion of international affairs, this book will appeal to library patrons who know Baldridge from her etiquette and amusing books. She is detailed but not bitter when describing the real lack of opportunity for women with her credentials. Recommended for public libraries. Jill Ortner, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Letitia Baldrige's books on manners have sold over two million copies; her previous guide to executive manners sold over half a million copies worldwide and has had sixteen printings. This is her thirteenth book. In her diplomatic career she served in the American embassies in Paris and Rome; in the White House she was Jacqueline Kennedy's chief of staff. She has served as a marketing consultant to many major international corporations and holds three corporate directorships. She produces management training seminars on business behavior for major American companies and professional institutions and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column and a monthly national magazine column. She is a regular on major network TV programs. Letitia Baldrige and her family live in Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

I recommend this book heartily.
Kevin Graves
Here's what is great about this book and her story: her life didn't begin and it didn't end with her association with Jackie Kennedy.
crazyforgems
I read this book years ago, and was telling a friend about it.
Rose

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By crazyforgems on May 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Tish Baldridge has led an interesting and amazing life. She wasn't blessed with great wealth or beauty yet she managed to live and work on the upper echelons of American political and social society in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, and onward.
Baldridge takes you through her beginnings in the midwest, her education at Miss Porter's and Vassar as one of the less financially advantaged students, her life in Paris and Rome working for such trend setters as Clare Booth Luce, her days at Tiffany, her years in the White House with Jackie Kennedy, and her life after.
Here's what is great about this book and her story: her life didn't begin and it didn't end with her association with Jackie Kennedy. Camelot fans will get great glimpses into those years from her vantage point. But there is a lot more to this book...
I would highly recommend this book to women who love biographies on the Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn set. I also would recommend this book to women who enjoy the story of a self-made woman and a survivor and anyone interested in the social history of this era. I would not recommend this book to most men and I would caution all readers to note that this is a book filled with details of food, flowers, gowns, and jewels and not policy making or congressional bills. You learn about the parties that Jackie Kennedy went to in the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis not about the policy nuances behind the crisis.
I gave this book as a present to several female friends and they loved it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Yes, this book is a rehash of Diamonds and Diplomats but with one huge difference. In D&D Ms. Baldridge was not entirely frank. Since many of the people she wrote about in that book were still alive she had to sugar coat the truth considerably. Now, with Lady First she is free to set the record straight.

She explains fully for the first time why she really left the White House and although she clearly adored Clare Booth Luce she's now free to show that working for her was no picnic.
Also, we get a superior picture of the author herself. Bold or pushy, if you prefer she charted her own course and made her own dreams come true whether it was to get herself to Paris or into the CIA or to be the first American female tourist in Yugoslavia after WWII.
If you think of Leticia Baldrige as just being the etiquette lady or you only remember her from her White House stint then this book will will show you an entirely different side.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Whobody on November 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Some might say that _A Lady, First_ is a rehash of Ms. Baldrige's book, _Of Diamonds and Diplomats_. However, the author has reflected on her life then and has written this book for twenty-first century readers. The stories are familiar, but they have been expanded to include so much that is of historical significance and that makes it worth reading.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lover of Mysteries on July 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Just when you think there can't be anything new or insightful written about Jackie Kennedy, along comes this book. The book is also about Clare Boothe Luce and Baldrige herself.
My favorite parts were when Baldrige revealed her failures and how she overcame what she and her generation considered her drawbacks and failures. Baldrige is an inspiration. I wish I had read this 30 years ago. I would never have wasted so much time regretting not looking like the straight-haired, model-thin girls of my generation. She inspires me now.
Excerpts from this book should be required reading for high-school girls. Every time I've been told no, I took it as final, door closed, you failed ... After reading this book, it is obvious that there is a better way to view and handle life's setbacks and rejections.
And this book is a very good read about Jackie Kennedy and Clare Boothe Luce.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as my first glimpse into the life of Letitia Baldridge ... I was consistently intrigued as to what intimate political and social disclosure the next page would bring, all the while appreciating her honest and often self-deprecating narrative. She has in fact led an extraordinary life which she often acknowledged in reflection of each experience, always seemingly thankful for the opportunity to have played small, yet significant roles in our nation's history. She also represented the classic female struggle more commonly found for today's woman ... unafraid to admit her conventional desire for an all-American red-blooded husband, while also refusing to compromise all of her intelligence, skill and experience by stopping anywhere short of being an accomplished business executive, saleswoman, philanthropist and lecturer.
Anyone who has enjoyed biographies from other great woman of the last century (i.e. Eleanor Roosevelt, Katherine Graham) would definitely enjoy this one as well ...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh! how I wish I had a life like Tish Baldridge's! She is a gutsy and classy lady and I admire her for that. I loved to read that book because it goes to show that dreams come true when we put the energy and efforts for them to materialize.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stacey B. Castleberry on November 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Letitia Baldrige busily whirled from exciting moment to moment, country to country, state to state and left the sweet smelling fragrance of her personality and fingerprints everywhere she went without much financial gain or personal recognition until now. She loved her work, and worked because she loved it, in an era when women had not yet fully emerged from beyond their households.
She loved people famous and not, and spent her time making them, the elite and others look even larger than life. It's her turn in this book to give an account of all she has achieved as her marks in history are still present and very alive today.
What an interesting and amazing, yet humble perspective of her world, and the world she changed and made more interesting for all of us.
She did it all, she did it well, and unbelievably, she did it ONE lifetime! I am sure she is not finished yet.
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