Picks and Pans Review: The Chief

UPDATED 03/04/1985 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/04/1985 at 01:00 AM EST

by Lance Morrow

"My parents were journalists, writers, and their talk was of public things. I came to see that their ideal of success depended precisely upon the degree to which the public merged with the private; the degree to which their private lives were associated with power..." Morrow, a senior writer for TIME, certainly is the child of those parents. His mother, Elise, was a Washington columnist, and his father, Hugh, a speechwriter for and a confidant of Nelson Rockefeller for 21 years. In this autobiography Morrow describes his life and that of his parents with near-ruthless candor. It was Hugh Morrow's job to see that Rockefeller, a sometimes mean-spirited, bitter man, always appeared publicly to be well-suited to the Presidency. The author, through his father, was privy to the details of Rockefeller's sordid last affair and death, and resents the role Hugh Morrow had to play in the attempted cover-up. Lance is as unsparing of himself as he is of his father and Rockefeller; he appears as a compulsive, uptight, often prickly prober of his own shortcomings. Describing a heart attack he had while covering the 1976 Republican political convention in Kansas City, he says, "I think that I enjoyed the stir I had created. Illness always seems to be a deeply childish transaction. One goes back. Perhaps because one is so helpless." Like all good autobiographies, this one is touched with truths that readers will recognize from their own lives—and their fathers'. (Random House, $16.95)

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