A legend in his own time as the quintessential war correspondent, novelist-playwright Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916) lived a life of adventure and danger reporting on the Greco-Turkish (1896), Spanish-American (1898) and Boer (1900) wars while he projected a romantic, well-bred and heroic image that endeared him to his readers and brought him world-wide fame. In this carefully researched study, Lubow, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair , rescues from obscurity the man who inspired Hemingway's journalism. The author points out the discrepancies between Davis's public image and the reality of a life beset by emotional depression. His first wife, Cecil, was an accomplished ``modern woman'' who accompanied him to battlefields and dinner parties and felt equally at home at both; Bessie, his second wife and one-time vaudeville dancer, felt jealously competitive with her husband and his writing success, with his brother, with whatever took attention away from her. Unfortunately, Lubow's stilted prose fails to bring his interesting subject's ``outsized personality'' to life. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
This is an engaging biography of a man who, although he had much more than the 15 minutes of fame we are all supposed to be allotted, is, nevertheless, mostly forgotten. Richard Harding Davis was a flamboyant journalist who covered the world for several newspapers and magazines; he also wrote popular fiction and plays. He was known at the turn of the century for his lifestyle as much as for his writing. Lubow, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair , has written a well-researched, absorbing picture not only of a man but of a way of life that has disappeared. Recommended for all libraries.-- Rebecca Wondriska, Trinity Coll. Lib., Hartford, Ct.