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Baroness of Hobcaw: The Life of Belle W. Baruch Paperback – July 15, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Miller offers a frank look at Baruch's unconventional life, exploring her flaws and failings, but also celebrating her accomplishments and the independent spirit with which she tackled her goals. The result is a story as interesting as the life of this twentieth-century conservationist, whose love for coastal South Carolina helped preserve Hobcaw Barony near Georgetown and ensure its safe future through the Belle W. Baruch Foundation.
Charleston (S.C.) Post & Courier

Hobcaw Barony, a priceless piece of the South Carolina coast, is preserved for all generations to come because of a fiercely independent woman who cherished the land, its heritage, and the creatures which she encountered there. . . . Miller's biography of Belle Baruch doesn't gloss over any weaknesses, yet also allows Belle's strengths to come to the fore and speak for their owner. Her portrayal of Belle leaves the reader with a feeling of sadness that Belle is no longer holding court at Bellefield, no longer someone the reader could possibly meet.
Charleston (S.C.) Mercury

Miller introduces readers to the colorful life of Belle Baruch, an heiress, athlete, world traveler and would-be spy hunter whose greatest legacy was the bequest of her South Carolina coastal estate for conservation and research. Miller doesn't shy away from the more complex aspects of Belle's biography, offering a direct treatment of her relationships with a string of male and female lovers. The vigorous style and well-paced action carry us along for an engaging ride with a woman who embraced life with verve and vigor.
Susan Millar Williams, author of A Devil and a Good Woman, Too: The Lives of Julia Peterkin

From the Inside Flap

The riveting biography of an heiress, equestrienne, spy-hunter, and patron of ecology
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press (July 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570039593
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570039591
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Prufer on January 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Since I live in the Hobcaw Barony area, it was with special interest that I read this book. Not much has been written about Belle Baruch, though her father Bernard is well documented in print. It was a fascinating look at Belle's life and the period. Often, nonfiction books of a historical nature are dry and tedious to read, but this one reads like a novel. Miller spent many years immersing herself in her subject, and it shows. And she doesn't shy away from the difficult questions surrounding her subject, but rather tackles them head-on. It was a joy to read, and I heartily recommend it here. If you live in this coastal area, be sure to visit Hobcaw Barony, which will add a special dimension to your enjoyment of this book.
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This book was a fascinating account, not only of the life of Belle Baruch, but also of the United States during the first half of the 20th century. As a native South Carolinian born after WWII, my knowledge of my home state's involvement on the "home front" is sketchy at best. I had no idea that German U-boats patrolled off our coast or that German spies were actually apprehended in South Carolina.

As to Belle, she certainly was an interesting woman, much ahead of her time in many ways! This book brought Belle to life for me. My only regret is that I did not read the book before visiting Hobcaw for the first time. If I had I would have had a greater appreciation for the land, the structures and for Belle and her foresight. I encourage anyone living in or visting South Carolina to visit Hobcaw. What a treasure!
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Interested for many years in the "herstory" behind a woman who was able to live as she chose. Privileged, bigger than life and openly gay, she led a life that was easily chronicled by Mary Miller. Apparently not the diarist her father (Bernard Baruch) was. Her sphere of influence no doubt constrained by her gender and preference, it would've been nice to have a little more access to her inner self. She bequeathed her precious estate to the University of South Carolina. They managed to lose the original painting used on the cover! (Along with some other art, shame, shame!)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When we went to Myrtle Beach on vacation, I had not heard of Belle W. Baruch. After touring her estate, Hobcaw Barony, I knew I had to read this book. I was not disappointed. It is very informative and here I was living in S.C. and had missed out on all of this information. I was surprised how few of my friend were aware of this wonderful story and how S.C. has benefited from the generosity of the Baruch family.
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Excellent history of the early and mid nineteen hundreds. Good insight on how how the wealthy spent their lives, their political and social beliefs, and their generous philanthropies. Wonderful descriptions of early South Carolina coastal flora and fauna and their attitude toward conservation. Recommend to anyone one interested in politics, conservation, human relationships, and the hunter jumper era of the twenties and thirties. Eye opening and provocative account of the times.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought this book was extremely entertaining, and very informative. I live close to Hobcaw Barony, so this story is close to my heart. It was interesting to see how much history took place within the Baruch family. I recommend this book to anyone who loves history.
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Belle Baruch was part rebel, part socialite and a woman who lived her life outside of convention. She had courage, exceeding good sense, and a reverence for the low country land that brought her much pleasure and peace. Her view on ecology and preservation of the environment was way ahead of her time. An interesting and satisfying read.
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There were parts of this biography that were extremely interesting and well written. Other sections we're filled with names and not much story to make them relevant.
I kept wishing the author would have either fictionalized Belle's life to add some human interaction or edited a little more of her material. It is worth the read just to understand this particular part of American history.
Spoiler: The issue of Belle's sexual preference was such an important part of this woman's life. It seemed as though the author did not really give us enough sense of the effect it had on her family, until she mentions how guilty Belle felt when her mother died. There are plenty of facts, photos and footnotes, but little passion in the writing.
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