All We Know

Three Lives

By Lisa Cohen; James Ed. Cohen
(Farrar Straus Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374176495, 448pp.)

Publication Date: July 17, 2012

List Price: $30.00*
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Description

Esther Murphy was a brilliant New York intellectual who dazzled friends and strangers with an unstoppable flow of conversation. But she never finished the books she was contracted to write—a painful failure and yet a kind of achievement.

The quintessential fan, Mercedes de Acosta had intimate friendships with the legendary actresses and dancers of the twentieth century. Her ephemeral legacy lies in the thousands of objects she collected to preserve the memory of those performers and to honor the feelings they inspired.

An icon of haute couture and a fashion editor of British Vogue, Madge Garland held bracing views on dress that drew on her feminism, her ideas about modernity, and her love of women. Existing both vividly and invisibly at the center of cultural life, she—like Murphy and de Acosta—is now almost completely forgotten.

In All We Know, Lisa Cohen describes these women’s glamorous choices, complicated failures, and controversial personal lives with lyricism and empathy. At once a series of intimate portraits and a startling investigation into style, celebrity, sexuality, and the genre of biography itself, All We Know explores a hidden history of modernism and pays tribute to three compelling lives.

All We Know is one of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best Books of 2012




About the Author
Lisa Cohen is a self-taught artist who was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She moved to the United States in the early 1980s, eager to embrace freedom of expression. She paints and lives in New Orleans with her family.

Eliot A. Cohen is the Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University and founding director of the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies there. A graduate of Harvard College, he received his Ph.D. in political science at Harvard in 1982. After teaching at Harvard and at the Naval War College (Department of Strategy) he served on the policy planning staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, coming to SAIS in 1990. His most recent book is "Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime" (Free Press, 2002): other books include (with John Gooch) "Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War". In 1991-93 he directed the US Air Force's official multi-volume study of the 1991 Gulf War, the "Gulf War Air Power Survey". He has served as an officer in the United States Army Reserve, and as a member of the Defense Policy Advisory Board of the Office of the Secretary of Defense as well as other government advisory bodies.


NPR
Saturday, Jan 19, 2013

Just nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Lisa Cohen's biography All We Know: Three Lives follows the stories of three women of the early 20th century. "I wanted to write a book that wasn't just about one great person," Cohen says, "but about a kind of collectivity." More at NPR.org

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