Helen Clay Frick: Bittersweet Heiressby Martha Frick Symington Sanger

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  • Helen Clay Frick: Bittersweet Heiress by Martha Frick Symington SangerReview by: Smadar ShtuhlThe Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 132, No. 3 (Jul., 2008), pp. 291-292Published by: The Historical Society of PennsylvaniaStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20094029 .Accessed: 28/06/2014 08:33

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  • 2008 BOOK REVIEWS 291

    think and work together. Contrary to his later image, Mack was an avid sign stealer and conniving advantage seeker

    as a player and manager. At times he

    could be an inspiring orator and manipulating publicist. Macht related that Mack's credo revolved around teamwork. "Think. Create. Experiment. And stay

    in shape." He told his players that they owed this dedication to themselves, their

    teammates, and the paying customers. He often advised his teams to "Get plen

    ty of rest, and be prepared mentally and physically to do ...

    [your] best every day" (444).

    The author focuses on Mack's dominant teams of the 1901-14 era. Macht discusses manager Mack's moves, strategies, and values. Most major transactions

    and controversies are examined and scrutinized. More knowledgeable readers

    might want to know more about Mack's relationship with Ben Shibe and the role of Al Reach in the founding of the Athletics. There are also questions about the actual machinations behind the signing of Napoleon Lajoie and the reasons why Ben Shibe did not assume more than 50 percent of the franchise. These kinds of

    queries are critical for a book of this detail and importance. This volume is the first installment of Mack's life. It is a must read for all his

    torians of the national pastime, particularly those with an interest in Philadelphia sports. It is just regrettable that this well-written text,

    as a research source, is

    plagued by such documentary omissions and limitations.

    Howard Community College Jerrold Casway

    Helen Clay Frick: Bittersweet Heiress. By MARTHA FricK SYMINGTON S?NGER. (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008. xiv, 391 pp. Illustrations, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. $40.)

    It is not often that a member of a privileged family authors a revealing biog raphy of an eminent relative, much less of the wealthiest heiress in America.

    Martha Frick Symington Sanger's biography of her great aunt, Helen Clay Frick

    (1888-1984), is a welcome addition to the growing interest in the history of priv ileged women and of memory and historical preservation. S?nger captures the essence of a life shaped at an early age by devastating family loss and shifting social and political forces. She argues that Frick was "a vividly independent fig ure in her insistent and successful fight to secure a place for herself, to have her voice heard, in the corporate, professional, museum, and business worlds of

    money and power" (xiv). S?nger reveals a tale of an art patron,

    a philanthropist,

    a natural preservationist, and above all a daughter whose lifelong dedication to her father's legacy set her at odds with Frick trustees, renowned scholars, and institutional administrators.

    Frick's luxurious childhood, overshadowed by the deaths of her beloved sister

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  • 292 BOOK REVIEWS July

    and newborn brother and near deaths of both her parents in the following year, hardened her determination to meet fully her father's expectations of preserving his art collections as his monument. S?nger demonstrates that

    Frick's philan

    thropic interests, such as the creation of a wilderness park

    and a vacation home

    for Massachusetts female textile workers, could not match her persistence to

    erect fitting monuments to her father. Thanks to her efforts he is now memori

    alized at his birthplace in West Overton, Pennsylvania, the family home in

    Clayton, the New York-based Frick Collection, the Frick Art Reference Library, and the fine art department and library of the University of Pittsburgh. Helen

    Clay Frick repeatedly contested other Frick Collection trustees, particularly her

    brother, Childs Frick, and John D. Rockefeller Jr., who attempted to seize control

    of the board and allow changes she deemed incompatible with her father's pref erences. In her keen desire to guard her father's reputation she sued the historian

    Sylvester K. Stevens over his description of Henry Clay Frick, appealed the

    ruling, and celebrated the appeal's

    settlement as the validation of her argument.

    The author successfully explicates her subject's idiosyncrasies. Frick's enduring dislike of Germans, expressed in the exclusion of Germans and those with

    German-sounding names from the Frick Art Reference Library, was rooted in

    the devastation she had witnessed in Europe during her war-relief work in 1918.

    Her European excursions with her father shaped her appreciation of art and led

    to her aversion of modern creations.

    The biography's strength is in its disclosure of a life of a privileged woman

    through the greatest part of the twentieth century and of the dynamics of a

    museum board. It also documents an elite woman's notable effort to preserve

    single handedly her father's memory at a time when few women of her rank suc

    ceeded in leaving monumental family legacies. Although the biography could

    have benefited from a closer analysis of gender and class, particularly in Frick's

    interaction with the trustees of the Frick Collection and in her philanthropy with

    working-class women, it is highly recommended to scholars interested in the his

    tory of Pennsylvania, women, philanthropy, art administration, and memory.

    Temple University SMADAR SHTUHL

    The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the

    Environmental Movement. By MARK HAMILTON LYTLE. (New York: Oxford

    University Press, 2007. x, 277 pp. Notes, bibliography, index. $23.)

    This book is part of Oxford's New Narratives in American History series

    based on vivid biographical portraits of important people and their place in the

    history of their time. Mark Hamilton Lytle presents the life of Rachel Carson by

    interweaving her works with the events of the period from 1907 to 1964. He sets

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    Article Contentsp. 291p. 292

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 132, No. 3 (Jul., 2008), pp. 215-300Front MatterIn Memory"Alive to the Cry of Distress": Joseph and Jane Sill and Poor Relief in Antebellum Philadelphia [pp. 215-243]Robert Hare: Politics, Science, and Spiritualism in the Early Republic [pp. 245-260]Review: Review Essay [pp. 261-270]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 271-272]Review: untitled [pp. 273-274]Review: untitled [pp. 274-275]Review: untitled [pp. 275-276]Review: untitled [pp. 277-278]Review: untitled [pp. 278-280]Review: untitled [pp. 280-281]Review: untitled [pp. 282-283]Review: untitled [pp. 283-284]Review: untitled [pp. 284-285]Review: untitled [pp. 285-287]Review: untitled [pp. 287-288]Review: untitled [p. 289-289]Review: untitled [pp. 290-291]Review: untitled [pp. 291-292]Review: untitled [pp. 292-293]Review: untitled [pp. 294-295]Review: untitled [pp. 295-296]Review: untitled [pp. 296-298]Review: untitled [pp. 298-299]

    Back Matter

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