- Hardcover: 445 pages
- Publisher: Villard; 1st edition (January 31, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679413472
- ISBN-13: 978-0679413479
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 149 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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American Empress: The Life and Times of Marjorie Merriweather Post Hardcover – January 31, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
This entrancing biography of Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973)-socialite, businesswoman, Palm Beach, Fla., pacesetter, opulent Washington hostess, philanthropist-is full of high drama, gossip, scandal and international political intrigue. Her father, C.W. (Charles William) Post, cured of "invalidism" at the Battle Creek, Mich., sanatorium of Dr. John Kellogg (inventor of packaged breakfast cereal), went on to develop Postum, a coffee substitute, and Post Toasties cereal. When C.W. killed himself in 1914, Marjorie, his only child, became sole heir of the Postum Cereal Co. With her sexually unfaithful second husband, stockbroker E.F. Hutton, Postum acquired Clarence Birdseye's frozen foods company, General Foods, which, partly through Post's influence as a board member, diversified into a food empire. Her third husband, Washington lobbyist Joseph Davies, became FDR's ambassador to the Soviet Union and helped cement the Soviet-U.S. alliance against Hitler. While living in Russia, Post was appalled at the Soviet police state. She divorced fourth husband Herbert May, a Pittsburgh executive, after a blackmailer's photographers revealed his homosexuality. Rubin, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, limns a warm, generous Christian Scientist, an imperious, perfectionist mother of three daughters, a down-to-earth woman who held square-dance parties and peppered her speech with expletives. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to Town & Country.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Rubin (Isabella of Castile, LJ 10/15/91) here delivers a sympathetic yet balanced biography of one of the 20th century's wealthiest women. Post inherited her fortune at the age of 27 from her father, C.W. Post, an early leader in the dry cereals industry. Her event-filled life, which included four marriages and dealings with many of the world's business and political leaders, was characterized both by generosity and extravagance. By contemporary standards, the role she played in shaping the development of General Foods seems less than extraordinary but was progressive by the standards of her day. Rubin successfully portrays the many facets of Post's life (philanthropist, socialite, mother, wife) and the high-society world in which she lived. A work with general appeal; recommended for popular history and business collections.
Mark McCullough, Heterick Lib., Ohio Northern Univ., Ada
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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This is the story of her life, poise and beauty, husbands and children, the war years, influences, independence, extravagance, business acumen, how she spent her money, and her golden rules of propriety, punctuality, and perfect posture: ‘she would not tolerate a house that was dark, a movie that ended sadly, or a life that was without hope.’
The chapter on the design and construction of Mar-a-Lago is interesting. The chapters about her time in Moscow, as the first ambassadress to Russia, accompanying her third husband Joseph Davies in 1936, are also very interesting – arriving with 50 pieces of hand luggage and 30 trunks!
This semi-biography of Marjorie Merriweather Post presents luxurious frivolousness with serious business sense, and a historical account of the life and times she lived in. It’s an interesting book.
This book managed to knock down a lot of misconceptions I had about Post. She didn't start out life as an indulged heiress despite the fact that her family started out very solidly middle-classed. She was a child of the Midwest born in Springfield IL and raised in Battle Creek. While she was known for her palatial homes as an adult and a livin' large lifestyle which included a lot of husbands, she remembered her roots. She helped a lot of people out and was often quite private when it came to some of her more personal philanthropic efforts. The end result gave me an unexpected liking for woman who was lively, fun and very direct.
I enjoyed this book a lot and appreciated that it was not only a biography of an interesting and influential woman but also a social history of 20th century America.