Talented, wealthy, beautiful, and controversial, Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) is best remembered as a congresswoman (1942-1946), ambassador, playwright, socialite, and spouse of magazine magnate Henry R. Luce of Time-Life-Fortune. Less familiar is Luce's wartime journalism, which included a book, Europe in the Spring (1940) and many on-location articles for Life.
Though she covered a wide range of World War II battlefronts, Luce considered her war reportage merely "time off" from her true vocation as playwright. Nonetheless, Luce endured the discomforts, frustrations, and dangers encountered by even the most seasoned war correspondent. Besides experiencing bombing raids in Europe and the Far East, she faced house arrest in Trinidad by British Customs when a draft Life article about poor military preparedness in Libya proved too accurate for Allied comfort. Luce's unsettling observations led longtime friend Winston Churchill to revamp Middle Eastern military policy.
Luce's initial encounter with the war in 1940 produced Europe in the Spring, her first non- fiction book. Anxious to convince fellow Americans of the dangers of isolationism, Luce wrote a vivid, anecdotal account of her four-month visit to "a world where men have decided to die together because they are unable to find a way to live together."
"I Decided To Go to Europe and See About the War"
Clare Boothe Luce, Europe in the Spring, Alfred A. Knopf, 1940, title page. General Collections, Library of Congress (102)
Trip to Pacific War Zone
George Rodger, [General Chiang Kai-Shek and Madame Chiang welcome Clare Boothe Luce], April 1942
Luce Interview with General Stilwell
George Rodger, [General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell arrives at his Maymyo headquarters and speaks with Clare Boothe Luce and Captain Fred Eldridge], April 7, 1942
"My insides had not stopped quivering. …"
George Rodger, [Clare Boothe Luce photographing casualties in Maymyo, Burma], April 8, 1942
Profile of General MacArthur
Clare Boothe, "MacArthur of the Far East," Life, December 8, 1941, pp. 123 -122
Luce with Philippine President Quezon
[Luce with Manuel Quezon and Admiral Thomas Hart], October 1941
Luce's Burma Article
Clare Boothe, "Burma Mission," Life, June 15, 1942, pp. 94-95