The Huntress (Hardcover)
The Adventures, Escapades, and Triumphs of Alicia Patterson: Aviatrix, Sportswoman, Journalist, Publisher
Pantheon, 9781101871133, 368pp.
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (8/22/2016)
With The Huntress, the Arlens give us a revealing picture of the lifestyle and traditions of the Patterson-Medill publishingdynasty—one of the country’s most powerful and influential newspaper families—but also Alicia’s rebellious early years and her dominating father, Joseph Patterson. Founder and editor of the New York Daily News, Patterson was a complicated and glamorous figure who in his youth had reported on Pancho Villa in Mexico and had outraged his conservative Chicago family by briefly espousing socialism.
Not once but twice, first at age twenty, Alicia agreed to marry men her father chose, despite having her own more interesting suitors. He encouraged her to do the difficult training required for an aviation transport license; in 1934 she became only the tenth woman in America to receive one. Patterson brought her along to London to meet with Lord Beaverbrook, to Rome to meet Mussolini, and to Moscow in 1937, at the time of Stalin’s “show trials,” where a young George Kennan took her under his wing.
Alicia caught the journalism bug writing for Liberty magazine, an offshoot of the Daily News. A trip to French Indochina highlighted her hunting skills and made the sultan of Johor an ardent admirer; another trip would involve India,the dangerous sport of pigsticking, several maharajas, and a tiger hunt. A third marriage, to Harry Guggenheim, blew hot and cold but it did last; it was with him that she started Newsday in a former car dealership on Long Island. Governor Adlai E. Stevenson, two-time Democratic candidate for president, would be one of her last admirers.
With access to family archives of journals and letters, Michael and Alice Arlen have written an astonishing portrait of a maverick newspaperwoman and an intrepid adventurer, told with humor, compassion, and a profound understanding of a time and place.
(With black-and-white illustrations throughout)
About the Author
MICHAEL J. ARLEN was for thirty years a staff writer and television critic at The New Yorker. He is the author of many books, including Thirty Seconds, An American Verdict, Exiles, which was short-listed for a National Book Award, and Passage to Ararat, which won a National Book Award.
Praise For The Huntress: The Adventures, Escapades, and Triumphs of Alicia Patterson: Aviatrix, Sportswoman, Journalist, Publisher…
“A biography that fascinates as it illuminates. As they chronicle Patterson’s long editorship of Newsday, the Long Island paper she launched in 1940, the authors manage to dish delicious gossip about her three marriages and her long affair with Illinois governor and presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. In long, sinuous sentences, the book paints a portrait of a unique and powerful woman, her ambitions only thwarted by the “vast gulf between men and women” that persisted even as so many things changed. Not only “a proud, briskly unsentimental woman,” Patterson emerges as a complicated person, one whose “own past, with its soup of vague and vivid memories, with its powerful and sometimes deafening tribal music,” weighed heavily, and often painfully. If the test of a biography is whether readers come to feel they truly know and care deeply about its subject, this one is a smashing success.”
—The Boston Globe
“Entertaining…a finely drawn, multigenerational portrait of life in the golden era of print journalism.”
—The New Yorker
"A vivid and entertaining biography...engagingly written...a rounded, clear-eyed portrait of a remarkable woman, a veritable force of nature."
—Martin Rubin, The Wall Street Journal
“Each page [is] a cascade of digressions and asides that are just as engaging as the main storyline itself….This biography moves Alicia Patterson’s legend beyond the realm of family lore and establishes her as a singular and inspiring figure in 20th-century American history.”
—Nick Romeo, Christian Science Monitor
“[The Arlens] detail their subject’s exceptional life and career as her family moved among the wealthiest in the nation…Readers who enjoy biographies of compelling and powerful women will relish Patterson’s story, which is nicely interwoven with major events of the 20th century.”
“[A] carefully researched and compelling biography."
“The next best thing to having been the blue-blooded and gutsy Alicia Patterson is to read the Arlens’ fascinating, wittily told account of her life. Of course, it would also be nice to emulate Patterson by founding a Pulitzer Prize–winning newspaper.”
—Patricia Marx, author of Let’s Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties
“Alicia Patterson made headlines (‘Society Girl Betrothed to One Man, as Another Gets License to Wed Her’) even before—as Newsday’s founder—she published them. Hers was a high-wire act of a life, as the tenth-grade expulsion for reading Anna Karenina might have suggested. Whether hunting tigers or establishing a newspaper, she is indomitable; she turns out as well to be irresistible in the Arlens’ luminous, spirited account.”
—Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra: A Life