1st Edition

Clare Boothe Luce
American Renaissance Woman

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 22, 2022
ISBN 9780367407339
March 22, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
288 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations

USD $44.95

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Book Description

Clare Boothe Luce: American Renaissance Woman is a concise and highly readable political biography that examines the life of one of the most accomplished American women of the 20th century.

Wife and mother, author, editor, playwright, political activist, war journalist, Congresswoman, ambassador, pundit, feminist—Luce did it all. Carefully placing Luce in a series of shifting historical contexts, this book offers the reader an insight into mid-century American political, cultural, gender, and foreign relations history. Eleven primary sources follow the text, including excerpts from Luce’s diary, letters, speeches, and published works, as well as a TV talk-show appearance and a critic’s diary entry describing an evening with her, helping readers to understand her fascinating life. Together, the narrative and documents afford readers a brief yet in-depth look at Luce with all her complications: glamorous intellectual, acid-tongued diplomat, and feminist conservative, she was a deeply flawed high-achiever who repeatedly challenged the entrenched sexism of her age to become a significant actor in the rise of the “American Century.”

Addressing the neglect suffered by women in foreign relations history, this will be of interest to students and scholars of US foreign relations, 20th century US history and US women’s history.

Table of Contents



Part I: Clare Boothe Luce

1. Early Years, 1903-29

2. Editor and Playwright, 1929-39

3. War Journalist and Political Activist, 1939-42

4. Politician, 1943-52

5. Ambassador, 1953-56

6. Pundit and Republican Grande Dame, 1957-87


Part II: Documents


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Philip Nash is Associate Professor of History at Penn State Shenango, USA, where he has won three teaching awards. He is also author of Breaking Protocol: America’s First Female Ambassadors, 1933-1964 (2020) and is a frequent guest on the “Professor Buzzkill” history podcast (at professorbuzzkill.com).


"As engaging as its subject, this fully-contextualized biography complicates the life and thought of a multi-talented playwright, war correspondent, diplomat, and partisan Republican. Philip Nash shows that the fight for equal rights once enlisted conservatives like Clare Boothe Luce, a woman who made the most of her beauty . . . and brains, who defied the limits of domesticity even when touting its virtues."

Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

"In this masterful biography of one of the most influential and controversial American women, Nash demonstrates the complexity and diversity of American feminism. Contextualizing Clare Boothe Luce in the culture, politics, and international diplomacy of the mid-twentieth century, this balanced, entertaining, and yet deeply interpretive account is bound to eclipse previous narratives of the leading feminist conservative. Highlighting the importance of broadly as opposed to deeply experienced figures—personalities who, like Clare Luce, mastered many fields rather than excelling in one—Nash also delivers extraordinary analyses on gender, politics, and transnational developments. This is biography at its best."

Alessandro Brogi, University of Arkansas, USA author of Confronting America: The Cold War between the United States and the Communists in France and Italy

"Philip Nash’s concise biography of Clare Booth Luce eloquently and judiciously depicts the life of a pathbreaking, polarizing woman. Harnessing archival records, an extensive secondary literature, and Luce’s own formidable corpus, he deftly charts her life as a microcosm of 20th century feminism and the American rise to world power. Taking us from the theaters of Broadway, to the battlefields of the Second World War, the halls of Congress, and the hothouse atmosphere of Fifties Rome, it is a lively, compelling, and often startling read."

Robert B. Rakove, Stanford University Program in International Relations, USA, author of Kennedy, Johnson, and the Nonaligned World

"Clare Boothe Luce: American Renaissance Woman reignites scholarship and refocuses biographers and women’s historians on this complex and powerful American woman. Conducting new research and producing new insights, Nash reframes the understudied Luce, a woman of formidable charisma, intellect, and drive, as a vibrant force both at home and abroad and a prominent figure in the rise of the American Century."

Victoria Phillips, London School of Economics, UK, author of Martha Graham’s Cold War: The Dance of American Diplomacy

"A remarkable book about a remarkable woman. Professor Nash provides a vivid portrait of a complex personality, warts and all. And his book deftly provides the context of the time, which enables one to understand the challenges she faced and how much, or how little, gender progress we have made. Must reading for anyone interested in the evolution of American diplomacy and the role that political appointee ambassadors play in it."

Ambassador (Ret.) Dennis C. Jett, author of American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats

"In his fascinating biography of Clare Boothe Luce, Philip Nash documents her significance as a woman of force in the 20th century. Coming of age a generation before conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, Luce is often overshadowed by her marriage to publishing mogul Henry Luce. Yet there is far more to Luce than that. As Nash argues, Luce used her wits and talents to break gender barriers, establishing herself as a paradoxical conservative in both women’s rights and foreign policy. His work is an important contribution to the history of women in the rise of American conservatism."

Linda Van Ingen, University of Nebraska at Kearney, USA, author of Gendered Politics: Campaign Strategies of California Women Candidates, 1912-1970