If he had been the best friend of the president of IBM, you might have happened to come across his name in a privately printed memoir. But he was the closest friend of John Fitzgerald Kennedy—and, as such, LeMoyne Billings is part of history. This intimate assessment of a thirty-year friendship chronicles the pleasures and tribulations of trying to keep up with JFK from Choate to the White House.
More than thirty years ago the social historian Russell Lynes wrote a tart essay about how Americans seem to divide themselves into rigid classes according to their taste. Shortly after it appeared, Life ran a chart illustrating it. People got stirred up, and Lynes’s classifications have been talked about ever since. Now, in a lively interview, the originator himself returns to show how we continue to measure our brows in the eighties.
He was a waspish Harvard aesthete with bad nerves, but when he saw a chance to help the intellectuals of Europe escape Hitler’s gestapo, he never hesitated. Working in constant danger, Fry and the brave, eccentric crew he assembled managed to smuggle hundreds of artists, writers, scholars, and scientists out of Vichy France. The little-known operation is one of the great adventure stories of our time.
The strange fate of the black loyalists of the American Revolution … a portfolio of wonderfully accomplished Southern paintings … the birth of the Rand Corporation … a vacation with Henry David Thoreau … and more, all—of course—illustrated.