'American Lady' by Caroline de Margerie

GeorgetownMoshe DayanHenry KissingerJohn F. Kennedy

Before blue states and red states, PACs or cable news, there was the era of Susan Mary Alsop, known as "the second lady of Camelot," who ruled a kingdom called Georgetown beginning in the 1960s. More than just a hostess, Alsop — a descendant of founding father John Jay and married to columnist Joe Alsop — reigned for more than four decades. Her home was a gathering place for real conversation about issues like the SALT talks and the war in Vietnam, not the shallow meet-and-greet affairs that characterize parties today.

Today so many offer lip service to bipartisanship, but that's what Alsop actually did: create an environment where issues could be discussed by what we would call the "thought leaders": President John F. Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, I.M. Pei, Katharine Graham and Moshe Dayan, to name a few.

In this biography, French author Caroline de Margerie avoids hagiography, instead depicting a fabulously interesting, complicated and influential woman.

Watch Printers Row Journal for an upcoming full-length review of "American Lady: The Life of Susan Mary Alsop."

"American Lady" by Caroline de Margerie

Introduction by Frances FitzGerald

Viking, 221 pages, $26.95

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