Christopher Ogden, Life of The Party: The Biography of Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 1994).
Power is the greatest aphrodisiac," claimed Secretary of State Henry Kissinger--who ought to know, having fascinated, among not a few others, so potent a femme fatale as Zsa Zsa Gabor. (Their budding affair was cut short, according to Zsa Zsa, when Kissinger became preoccupied with the invasion of Cambodia.) Yet Power itself succumbed to the charms of Pamela Harriman, present Ambassador to France and past seductress of the likes of Randolph Churchill, Edward R. Murrow, Elie de Rothschild, and, of course, Averell Harriman. As Christopher Ogden shows in his informative biography, perhaps no woman in this century has cast so broad and deep a spell over the men who ruled the western world. She was on intimate terms with top World War II generals and diplomats, the head of CBS, and even Frank Sinatra. No fewer than three participants at the Yalta conference of 1945 wrote her love letters.
Yet it would be unjust to portray Harriman, as some have done, as merely the greatest courtesan of her time. As Ogden makes clear, she was much more than a glittering jewel adorning the veneer of high politics. She had political convictions, and what is more, political talents, of her own. The convictions were essentially conservative (her father was a staunch Tory who sat in the House of Lords), though the talents were usually lent to Democratic causes. This was partly out of loyalty to her husband Averell and partly because, she says, she felt a certain kinship between Tory noblesse obligé and Democratic paternalism.
The PAC she founded, Democrats for the 'Eighties (which helped the Democrats take back the Senate in 1986), was deemed by Mario Cuomo "the most effective political organization I know of within our party."