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Kingmaker

On sale

19th September 2024

Price: £25

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349014722

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An electrifying re-examination of one of the twentieth century’s greatest unsung power players

‘Fascinating and revelatory, written with great aplomb, insight and shrewd analysis. A triumph’ WILLIAM BOYD

‘A vivid, glittering, sexy, scintillating, beautifully written portrait of a woman who drove 20th century history even as history was driving her’ LIZA MUNDY, bestselling author of The Sisterhood and Code Girls

‘A deliciously seductive read’ DENISE KIERNAN, bestselling author of The Girls of Atomic City, The Last Castle and We Gather Together

When Pamela Churchill Harriman died in 1997, the obituaries that followed were scathing – and often downright sexist. Written off as a social climber, her glamorous social life and infamous erotic adventures overshadowed her true legacy. Much of what she did behind the scenes to shape the twentieth century, on both sides of the Atlantic, remained invisible. That is, until now: with a wealth of fresh research, Sonia Purnell unveils for the first time the full, spectacular story of how Harriman left an indelible mark on the world today.

There is practically no-one in twentieth-century politics, culture and fashion whose lives she did not touch. Her influence began at age twenty, when her father-in-law, Winston Churchill, engaged her as a “secret weapon” during World War II, wining, dining and seducing Americans over to the British cause against Hitler. It continued later in the US, where she hand-picked Bill Clinton from obscurity and vaulted him to the presidency. It extended further, over five decades and two continents, influencing figures like the Kennedys, Nelson Mandela, Truman Capote, Gianni Agnelli, Kay Graham, Gloria Steinem and Frank Sinatra.

Written with the novelistic richness and investigative rigour that only Sonia Purnell could bring to this story full of sex, power, yachts, palaces and fabulous clothes, Kingmaker sets out Harriman’s rightful place at the heart of recent history.

Reviews

Liza Mundy, bestselling author of The Sisterhood and Code Girls
One of the most accomplished biographers of our time. Purnell gifts readers with a vivid, glittering, sexy, scintillating, beautifully written portrait of a woman who drove 20th century history even as history was driving her. Kingmaker is a rich and nuanced study of power--its allure, its perils, the gratifications and the great cost of its pursuit
Denise Kiernan, New York Times bestselling author of The Girls of Atomic City, The Last Castle, and We Gather Together
Sonia Purnell escorts readers behind the scenes, beneath the covers, and between the lines as she crafts an enthralling and exhaustive portrait of Pamela Harriman, whose life and legacy have long deserved the kind of insightful treatment that someone with Purnell's storytelling talents can provide ... A deliciously seductive read
William Boyd
A completely fascinating and revelatory biography, written with great aplomb, insight and shrewd analysis. A triumph