Shockingly honest, richly detailed, and pulling no punches, Friends and Enemies traverses the highs and lows of Barbara Amiel's storied life in journalism and high society.
From her early childhood in London during the Blitz to emigrating to North America and her rise to the top rungs of journalism; to her four husbands and other assorted beaus both famous and not; and right up to her marriage to Conrad Black and their prolific legal battles against the powerful and vengeful American justice system, Barbara Amiel's life has been as dramatic as it is glamorous. She has been called every conceivable name in the book by the media (and authors of unauthorized biographies about her), pilloried for her extravagant lifestyle and sometimes regrettable quotes to the press ("My extravagance knows no bounds," for instance, to Vogue), not to mention her outspoken conservative political views as stated in her weekly newspaper columns around the world. It's no surprise she remains to this day a subject of utter fascination after over four decades in the public eye.
But until now, very few people actually know her real story—the break-up of her family when she was a child, her bouts of debilitating depression and other chronic health issues, her thoughts on feminism and #MeToo, her travels with the international jet set and A-list celebrities, and, of course, her unvarnished views on the trial and conviction (since overturned) of Conrad Black and the iron-clad bond they have shared since they were married in 1992.
Whether you are an admirer or critic of Amiel’s, you will be completely engrossed in her operatic life, one that seems ripped from the pages of a scandalous novel. She also distinguishes herself as a woman well ahead of her time—the first female editor of a national newspaper in Canada, she challenged the sexual mores of society while also angering the feminist establishment. She has certainly had many friends and enemies over the years—Henry and Nancy Kissinger, Elton John, Tom Stoppard, David Frost, Anna Wintour, Oscar de la Renta, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana, Marie Jose Kravis, to name but a few—and she brings these personalties into the spotlight in this larger-than-life memoir that is sure to cause a sensation with readers everywhere.
I quit at 1/3 of the book, which is a lot, when I finally googled her and Conrad’s Wiki pages. Should have never listened to the hype and wasted my money and time.