First Book Reviews – Libby Hill and Cynthia Rosner Binney
“Cynthia Rogers Binny: A Life As a Woman Entrepreneur” by Melvyn Bragg is the second of three books in a series about her career’s early days. The first book, “Songs of Fame: The Life of Cynthia Rogers” by Annabel Joyner, was published in 2021 and chronicled the early years of Cynthia’s life as a performer.
The second book, “Binny: A biography” by Laura Fenimore, was released in February of this year and covered the years. In this collection, we get to follow the life and times of a woman who has achieved so much. Some of the stories in this book are similar to those of Annabel Joyner’s previous books about Cynthia.
So, what makes these books so interesting? As with any biography, the first question is whether the facts given in the book make sense. The answer is yes and no. The first book in this series was quite well researched and given sound historical insights.
However, in this second book, some of the stories do get a bit stretched, and some of the events covered in the first book get a bit left out, such as some of the events that supposedly happened after Marilyn Monroe’s death.
That said, these two books are still highly entertaining reads. The author’s clear love of women and business is reflected in writing, and the events and places are exciting to read about.
As is the case with any biographies, we should be mindful that this is not the whole truth. Many of the events in this first book were likely embellishments, and certainly, some of the dates that were mentioned probably do not coincide with the true dates of events.
But, this book is certainly a good read. And, although it may take a little bit of work to connect all the dots, it is certainly possible.
There is plenty of information in this to keep you reading. You learn about how her marriage to Richard Nixon dealt with the post-Watergate scandal. You learn about her rise to power and how she used her business connections to secure those positions.
Then you learn about the infamous “Nixon tape,” which has kept her from running for president. You hear about her first marriage and the failed attempt to sell her shares in Enron.
There is also the infamous “case against” her and its impact on American business and the perception of the American legal system. This first book is a great read, if only because it is so detailed. If you want to know everything there is to know about her life, this book could be your ultimate sourcebook.
However, this first book leaves some holes. Some of the events mentioned (on page 13) do not add up to the portrayed story. Also, at one point, she seems to take credit for helping to get the Black Booklist of convicted criminals relabeled. She is presented as someone who was a victim of her times. While I do feel that her achievements deserve mention, some of her claims are a stretch.
This second book, just like the first, leaves some things unexplained. We do not find out what happened to the Nixons during the period mentioned in this book. The events described do not make sense to me.
Furthermore, while I completely understand how important these people were to her, I do not see how she could have any part in founding the Binney Committee. Even if she did, I am still not sure how much good they did.
So, both books are first book reviews. In my opinion, the first book does a pretty good job at telling the history of the Binney Committee, but the second book does leave a lot to be desired.
However, if you prefer your biographies to be as detailed and as explanatory as possible, I recommend both books. Both are excellent references for anyone interested in the history of the first lady.