From Publishers Weekly
Even readers who find the idea of a "playboy" somewhat questionable won't be able to put down Levy's biography of Porfirio Rubirosa (1909– 1965). For one thing, there's delicious gossip: the women he courted (Eartha Kitt, Zsa Zsa Gabor), the men he prowled with (Prince Aly Khan, Sinatra, the Kennedys) and the fabulously wealthy women he married (Barbara Hutton, Doris Duke). There's also the story of his infamous penis—Doris Duke described it as "six inches in circumference... much like the last foot of a Louisville Slugger baseball bat with the consistency of a not completely inflated volleyball." Plus, there's sports-car racing, polo ponies and nonstop nightclubbing. But Levy, film critic for the Portland Oregonian
, goes beyond the glitz to see Rubirosa as a product of a particular time and place: dictator Trujillo's Dominican Republic. Like many Trujillo intimates, Rubirosa was well paid for his loyalty, not his labor. By the 1960s, when Rubirosa crashed his Ferrari in Paris's Bois de Boulogne, he was an anachronism—at that point, even wealthy men were trying to have careers of some sort. All Rubi knew was how to enjoy himself, so this bubbly bio is a perfect tribute. Photos.
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Porfirio Rubirosa is a name likely to be unfamiliar to anyone born after 1960, but he certainly made a name for himself in the 1950s--as a playboy par excellence--and his life story proves well worth the telling. Written in a breezy style perfectly suitable for conjuring Rubirosa's seductive personality and the steamy atmospheres that he created and in which he flourished, Levy's complete reconstruction of his life starts with his childhood in the Dominican Republic as the son of a military man turned diplomat. Rubirosa married a daughter of Dominican strongman Raphael Trujillo, later married a French actress, and then wed two fabulously wealthy American heiresses. He died (at age 56, in 1965) as he lived--zooming in a fast car; unfortunately, on this occasion, his car crashed, and he died before reaching a hospital. By the author of Rat Pack Confidential
(1998), this biography is both an anatomy of shallowness and a compelling piece of social history. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved