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The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club: Power, Passion, and Politics in the Nation's Capital

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  308 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
In this definitive portrait of the political and social life of Georgetown, bestselling biographer C. David Heymann chronicles the dinner parties, correspondence, overlappings, and underpinnings of some of the most influential women in Washington's history.

"The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club" -- a term coined by Ronald Reagan -- comprises a list of formidable and fascinati
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 2nd 2004 by Atria Books (first published October 1st 2003)
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Dec 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Porfirio Rubirosa
Everyone in this book, woman or man, made me so queasy I wouldn't touch any of them with a 15-foot pole. Whether it was Peter Duchin walking in on Averell Harriman and Pamela Churchill (both way over the hill at that point) going at it on the sofa with her skirt up around her waist and lipstick all over his face, or people marveling at how this or that hostess was so successful because she knew how to make men feel powerful, or Joan Braden asserting that Pamela Harriman was "the last of the grea ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book started slow but definitely picked up. It spans quite a few decades, presidencies, families, and political beliefs and how a small group of women helped influence Georgetown. The book does a good job of showing how the women's influence grew, peaked, and waned, which was well done, but the biggest problem is that the book is supposed to be, according to the cover, about Kay Graham, Lorraine Cooper, Evangeline Bruce, Pamela Harriman, and Sally Quinn. The author, however, indulges his wh ...more
The "The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club: Power, Passion, and Politics in the Nation's Capital" is a book that draws the reader in once he/she has ventured beyond a few pages. The reader is taken back to an era in Washington DC (and by extension, the nation) when policy decisions and key relationships among politicians (and their wives and/or mistresses), diplomats, literary and media figures were made in the private homes of a select number of politicians, policy makers, diplomats, the well-heel ...more
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kay-graham
Heymann describes this book as "an anecdotal record of the lives of five women who helped run Washington from behind the scenes." He also describes it as "a social history of Georgetown."

As you might imagine, then, it's largely personality driven. And personalities are perceived differently by different people. What one person perceives as strength, another might see as domineering. Heymann does a fine job of presenting many facets, observed by many people, of these five women (Kay Graham, Lorr
Jacquelyn  Orton
This is one of the best books I have read in many years. Now, granted, I'm a total political junkie, used to live in Georgetown, and knew several of the players in the book. Still, I learned so much about DC, politics, protocol and history that I could not put this book down. Literally. And it's a big book! I carried this book in my purse for four days and read it every chance I had.

The Georgetown Ladies Social Club tells the story of the important roles a small group of women played in our nat
Aug 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in DC history
This was a good book in that it enlightened me to the social hierarchy that helped build the city of DC. I thought I would be all about this book, because I felt like it'd have a bunch of intrigue and scandal laced through its pages, but I was only half right. If you aren't acutely familiar with all of the "old school" DC-area families and their roles in the cultivation of this city and its social structure, you will definitely get overwhelmed with this book (I know I did). There were points whe ...more
Dec 18, 2012 rated it liked it
The long and short of it is: I've always thought Sally Quinn was a mean-spirited mental lightweight and this book proves it. It was a great read, a little heavy on the name-dropping of who attended what party (and there are TONS of parties), but its gossipy and fun and powerful in places and you realize that as the presence of women changes in DC and women are playmakers in their own right, this enclave of powerful wives is no longer needed. For readers, the stories of Evangeline Bruce and Lorra ...more
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
While it was an interesting insight into what it meant to be female in the old boys world of Georgetown, I wasn't impressed with the writing. I thought the author lacked narrative focus, and was therefore prone to tangents. I wasn't sure what he was trying to accomplish with this book - capturing the feel of Georgetown life? Showing how women's roles within it transformed over time? Giving biographies of its most prominent women? Even outside those sweeping categories he seemed to bob between, I ...more
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
I thought I would just eat this up. Some of it was interesting. Overall, I couldn't wait to get finished with it. At the halfway point I started to feel as though despite some of the great things that were accomplished, the women were coming across as catty and self-important. The last chapter of the book seemed to get back on track. I'm glad I read it, but I'm glad I'm done with it too.
Chris Schaffer
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics, random
I am a DC native who grew up there in the 1980s. I grew up in Spring Valley in a different section, definitely a different world than these snooty women. I love the Georgetown neighborhood, M Street, Georgetown University, the Tombs, the Hoyas, etc. I remember in High School not liking many of the kids that came from the parochial school in Georgetown thinking of them as arrogant and highly conceited. Seeing that they were raised in this rich enclave with parents who probably paid no attention t ...more
Mary Ann
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In this book, biographer David Heymann illustrates the influence of social networks and personal relationships on politics and government decision-making. He chronicles an era when a handful of powerful Georgetown hostesses used their money, social position and event guest lists to influence US politics. This includes Kay Graham, whose husband committed suicide, leaving her to publish the Washington Post.

The book spans more than 40 years. From anecdotes by people involved, it's easy to understa
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Gossipy account of Georgetown Society during its heyday, the administrations of Truman through Bush II, when women wielded power mainly by having dinner parties where important men could meet and mingle. It was fun to read about the personal scandals , affairs and tragedies involving powerful men and their mates during this bygone era, as well as the important connections and decisions made in these social settings. One of the most fascinating and surprising individuals chronicled in this book w ...more
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was selected by my book club for this month's read and I don't think I would have gravitated to the book on my own if it hadn't been assigned to me.

The stories started out pretty slow and I admit that I skimmed quite a number of pages, especially those that were littered with the names of people who were attending the parties in Georgetown (and that kind of name-dropping happened a lot!)

I thought C. David Heymann did a good job of showing how the Georgetown ladies influenced the polit
Jan 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
To enjoy this book, it helps immensely to be curious about DC society and politics and also the history and transition of the Washington Post. I am not; however, I still found it a fun read and I learned much more about major players such as Katharine Graham, Lorraine Cooper, Evangeline Bruce, Pamela Harriman and Sally Quinn. Unfortunately, I suspect the only thing I'll remember is that Katharine Graham transformed through tragedy and time from sheepish to bold and that Sally Quinn was the Posts ...more
May 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
A look at the 'power' behind what is published in The Washington Post, as well as what some consider the real driving force behind issues that make it to the attention of national/world media. Frankly, I found the main characters superficial; the very effort involved to stay 'striving' and to keep up the facade of power and prestige was exhausting. Finally, the book just struck me as sad...all of these "powerful" individuals needing to sleep with everyone other than their spouse/significant othe ...more
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book got me from start to finish. I also very much enjoy C David Heymann's writing style.

Powerful Washington DC women, who are married to powerful men. High-power politics and business are not for the faint-hearted, as these women aptly demonstrate.
So, there's plenty of heartbreak, as well, with interesting trade-offs.

As a big fan of Ronald Reagan, I chuckled that it was his phrase which describes these women, 'The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club.'

Regardless of your politics~ Enjoy....
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About DC society and politics and also the history and transition of the Washington Post. Major players included Katharine Graham, Lorraine Cooper, Evangeline Bruce, Pamela Harriman and Sally Quinn. This is a group of highly motivated women who lived in the same neighborhood at the same time. Nixon referred to the group as "a shadow conspiracy of women." However, these women, their parties, and presence certainly brought about changes we are still experiencing. A good read especially for a nativ ...more
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
A biography of 5 formidable women: Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham; Lorraine Cooper, wife of Kentucky's Sen. John Sherman Cooper; Evangeline Bruce, wife of U.S. ambassador David Bruce; Democratic Party fund-raiser (and later ambassador) Pamela Harriman, married to the powerful and wealthy Averell Harriman; and Sally Quinn, Washington Post writer and wife of the Post's former executive editor Ben Bradlee.
Their personal stories make for a fascinating read.
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
If you are wild for DC politics, consider this a 3-star review. Otherwise, I think you will tire of the gossip,the revelations of big decisions made for shallow reasons and the influence of alcohol and sex at the top levels of government.

I was fascinated by the details of these notable lives for the first half of the book and then I was ready to get beyond the sleaze and dysfunction of a world I did not admire.
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
My book club's selection for February 2009. I only got through about 50 pages of this book. It was quite interesting to get a qlimpse of Georgetown socialite life in the 1900's (both early and late) and as I read it, I kept thinking of my friend who lives off of P Street in DC... good, but I found it hard to keep track of all of the notable names and not engaging enough to keep me coming back for more.
Peggy Jeffcoat
Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is an account of 5 ladies (Katharine Graham, Lorraine Cooper, Evengeline Bruce, Pamela Harriman and Sally Quinn) who influenced politics in Washington over the last 50 years. They brought together politicians, businessmen, artists, journalists etc. into their homes and not only entertained, but provided a forum for discussions on world changing events. It takes awhile to get through this book, but I enjoyed it...probably a 3+.
Apr 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
This book brings to life the old axiom, "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world". Sadly, while the five women showcased in this book were powerful, elegant, and street-smart, they also possessed the moral compasses of female cats in heat. Infidelity, deceit, and neglect marked their lives in very specific ways. I was hoping to discover a woman who was worthy of admiration--instead, I just felt pity.

An honest insight into how Washington works...
Beth Ann
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Closer to 3-1/2. I really enjoyed this since Washington, DC, is my life-long home. Many of the names were familiar to me, and I had even met a few, so it felt very personal. Not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I were not a native Washingtonian. (To be honest, I'll also give any book an extra 1/2 star if I can read it by the pool like I did with this one!)
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it
The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club: Power, Passion, and Politics in the Nation's Capital is a very interesting book I enjoyed and loved the varied sources of information. The lives of some of the women were so sad considering their wealth and connections. The way their children were raised is nothing to envy.
Jan 13, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: college-reads
Ah yes. The wealthy women who ruled the men who ruled the world. Nothing better then to get to know who screwed who in their ambitious climb to the top. Interesting fact from this book, Julia Child was a spy.
May 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
I love Georgetown and stories of successful women, but this was a little scattered for my taste. He wove in several stories and interviews, but it was hard to keep track of so many characters and their roles and relationships.
Nancy Ponder
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very interesting read on the influence of women in the 1960's political scene.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting look into power of social DC insiders
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Started off a little bit bumpy but once it got it's feet under it it really got rolling. Juicy and interesting, I really enjoyed the in-depth peak into this world.
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C. David Heymann is the internationally known author of such New York Times bestselling books as The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club; RFK: A Candid Biography of Robert F. Kennedy; Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton; and A Woman Named Jackie: An Intimate Biography of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Three of his works have been made into award-winning NBC-TV miniseries. ...more
More about C. David Heymann...

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