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Jock: The Life and Times of John Hay Whitney by E.J. Kahn, Jr. (150,000 words, 55 illustrations)

Born into one of America’s wealthiest and most distinguished families, John (“Jock”) Hay Whitney (1904-1982) spent his childhood in an Italian Renaissance town house on New York’s Fifth Avenue, in Westbury, Long Island and Greentree, South Carolina. Groton, the prestigious prep school, transformed the pudgy, awkward, stuttering young boy with a penchant for day-dreaming into an accomplished young man with direction, who went on to study at Yale and Oxford.

Jock pursued a life dedicated to leadership, to using his money responsibly and wisely, and to cultivating diverse interests. He brought patrician quality and flair to an incredible array of worlds: to café society as a redoubtable playboy; to sports as a polo player who appeared on the cover of
Time and as a stable owner who raced horses on a prodigious scale; to family life as the husband of two of the era’s great beauties, the second being Betsey Cushing Roosevelt, FDR’s favorite daughter-in-law; to Hollywood as the producer, with David O. Selznick, of “Gone With the Wind,” “A Star is Born,” and “Rebecca”; to Broadway as the backer of “Life with Father” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”; to the arts as a collector and as president and trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; to World War II as a volunteer and as a German prisoner of war who made a dramatic escape from a moving train; to politics as an early supporter of Eisenhower and later as a close friend of the President; to diplomacy as ambassador to Great Britain from 1956 to 1961; to education as Yale’s Senior Fellow; to philanthropy as an innovator; to investing as founder, in 1946, of one of the earliest venture-capital firms; and to journalism as the publisher who battled valiantly to save the troubled New York Herald Tribune.

“Mr. Kahn covers, apparently in full, the life of Mr. Whitney. It is by writing down the ascertainable that the picture of his personality — an intelligent, concerned man with a talent for bringing together those who are poles apart — emerges... Each sentence, with style and sophistication, pushes forward the narrative with an offering of new information, laced at times with witty comment. There are no unanswered questions... [A] wholly absorbing... story of an unusual life.” — Richard F. Shepard,
New York Times

“In relating Whitney’s always-interesting story and in setting it in the texture of the times, Kahn writes with awe. In fact, there are times when he is irreverent. That is all to the good, but his Whitney is a thoroughly credible person, a genuinely well-mannered and nice person, who has wanted to do well whatever he started out to accomplish. He’s a delight to meet.” — Alden Whitman,
Boston Globe

New Yorker style, richly anecdotal and detailed... does justice to this highly likable millionaire sportsman, diplomat, newspaper publisher, stage and Hollywood angel and Maecenas, who played all these roles with zest and imagination... A delightful tribute to a man who ‘epitomized, in a world of increasing egalitarianism, the vanishing patrician.’” — Publishers Weekly