Brinkley’s treatment of Luce's personal life is deft, but ultimately unsatisfying. Could that be because Luce the husband and lover is less accessible to a biographer than Luce the striver and publishing mogul? Perhaps. In 1935 Luce left his first wife, Lila Hotz, to marry the glamorous playwright and divorcée Clare Boothe Brokaw. As Brinkley makes clear, Henry and Clare made a difficult couple—competitors more than collaborators. (Once Harry discovered Clare to be the better golfer, for example, he never set foot on the links with her again). They managed to stay married for more than 30 years, but it was a purely pragmatic arrangement in which they each carried on multiple affairs.
Henry Luce retired as editor-in-chief of Time, Inc. in 1964 at the age of 66. He died less than three years later, not quite 69, having struggled his entire life, as Brinkley puts it in this absorbing treatment, "not only to be successful, but also, like his revered father, to be virtuous."
Roberta Conlan, the founder and managing editor of book packager EdiGraphics, is an editor and writer who divides her time between Virginia and Hawai‘i.