Reviews of Kitty Kelley Biographies

(Book Reviews by Kitty Kelley here)

Reviews of Martin’s Dream Day here.

Reviews of Let Freedom Ring: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the March on Washington here.

Reviews of Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedys here.

Oprah: A Biography

“[A]n impeccably researched and well-organized look into the unlikely life of a self-made woman who used her poor upbringing as a steppingstone to build an astonishing media empire…Oprah is, in many ways, a brave and audacious book…. Oprah, the book, methodically traces the rise of Oprah, the woman, in fast-moving chapters about her upbringing, career, romances and causes, all of which highlight her many charms and contradictions.”

Susan Carpenter
Los Angeles Times

April 15, 2010

“[T]his book is a fascinating and indispensible window onto contemporary life on many levels.”

J. J. Phillips
Konch Magazine

Winter 2011

“[Oprah] has lifted the lid on one of the most enigmatic TV legends of our time.”

Melbourne Herald Sun

November 27, 2010

“[Kelley] has a very powerful understanding of what makes a modern celebrity. She gets the journey, to use a favourite Oprah word, but she also gets the cost of the journey.”

Andrew O’Hagan
London Review of Books
November 4, 2010

“I [found] well-argued the stages of Winfrey’s own rise; she did not spring fully armed as Athena did from the head of Zeus with all the answers about dysfunctional relationships and recipes for self-realization fully spelled out…. There’s also a similarly interesting through-line in the book about the evolution of the talk-show form that Winfrey was instrumental in shaping.”

Elizabeth Guider
The Hollywood Reporter
April 22, 2010

“Included [in Kelley’s research files] are transcripts of 2,732 interviews Winfrey has given. Add to that the 850 interviews Kelley did on the billionaire TV talk show host and you have Oprah: A Biography … all 525 footnoted pages of it.”

Craig Wilson
USA Today

April 12, 2010

“The image of Oprah as America’s benevolent earth mother is about to take a serious hit, thanks to — who else? — biographer Kitty Kelley…”

Roxanne Roberts
Washington Post

April 12, 2010

“John Tesh acknowledged Monday that he and Oprah Winfrey were once an item – one of the juicy tidbits in a new tell-all biography about the talk show queen.”

Katie Nelson
New York Daily News

April 12, 2010

“A Kitty Kelley biography of Oprah Winfrey is one of those King Kong vs. Godzilla events in celebrity culture.”

Lauren Collins
The New Yorker

April 19, 2010

“Kitty Kelley’s just-released book ‘Oprah’ contains a number of interesting media tidbits…”

Howard Kurtz
Washington Post

April 12, 2010

“For me, the most surprising scene is the one in which she calls room service at a hotel to order a snack of two pecan pies, which she immediately consumes…It is jarring, as is the detail about the heated dog kennel at her former country estate in Indiana.”

Deobrah Solomon
New York Times Magazine

April 5, 2010

“Kitty Kelley’s name will not be showing up on any of Oprah Winfrey’s lists of favorite things.”

Janet Maslin
New York Times

April 11, 2010


*Elizabeth Guilder’s “Kitty Kelley’s Book Tries to Dissect Oprah” is behind a paywall at, so the above links to a lightly edited version of the review posted by Reuters.

The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty

“In keeping with the Sicilian inflections of the title, this is a story of power, sex and betrayal–but mostly just of power…. Here is a story any producer would love–a family saga that spans generations and continents…. Kelley reminds readers just how long the Bushes have been with us, sweeping like cattle raiders toward the source of power…. has brought new information to bear on a family that…deserves her kind of royal treatment.”

Ted Widmer
New York Times Book Review
October 10, 2004

“[Kelley] convincingly shows that good looks, energy, athleticism, ambition, felicitous marriages and social networking can compensate for intellectual ordinariness.”

Sylvia Jukes Morris
Washington Post Book World
September 26, 2004

“I want to say that this book, I think, is an fascinating read…an extraordinary read…great history and a great story told.” 

Lou Dobbs
Lou Dobbs Tonight
September 15, 2004

“While Kelley is being savagely attacked as a tabloid sleaze queen, her book is more heavily researched and documented than Bush advocates allege. It is also thoroughly entertaining.” 

David Talbot
September 14, 2004

“[D]oing what she does is like poking a stick into a hornet’s nest. The holder of the stick gets a nasty reaction from the disturbed occupants…. The resulting book, however, is a good read.” 

Marianne Means
Houston Chronicle
September 17, 2004

“‘The Family’ is a fast paced, 600-plus page summary of the Bushes, dating back to the early days of Prescott Bush, grandfather of the current president, and leading right through the U.S.-led war in Iraq. It is told as both political and personal drama, complete with unhappy marriages, sibling jealousy, drugs, alcohol and the endless pursuit of money and power.” 

Hillel Italie
Associated Press
September 13, 2004

“Despite the best efforts of the media, the public is gaining insight into their president as the facts leak out and as Kitty Kelley’s ‘The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty,’ tops the sales chart.”

Les Payne
Long Island NY Newsday
September 26, 2004

“It is Kelley’s function in American culture to give popular expression to the dark, personal dramas of well-known people whose private lives are routinely airbrushed into bright fantasies that bear no resemblance to human life. Kelley’s book not only delivers the dirt you’ll rarely if ever get in The New Yorker or The Atlantic Monthly, let alone on Fox News, it reminds you that personal dirt is the rich soil of day-to-day political life—whether it’s Barbara hating the Reagans for treating her and George like servants, Dubya bursting into obscene rages at reporters during his father’s presidential campaigns (which helps explain his manner during press conferences), or Bush I underestimating Bill Clinton in part because he thought the Arkansas governor too low-class to be a real competitor.” 

John Powers
Village Voice
September 21, 2004

“I can vouch for Ms. Kelley’s absolute determination to back up and document numerous stories that she writes about in her book.”

David Robb
author of Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies

“Kelley’s latest book, The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, is her most controversial, and potentially most important book to date.”

Irish Independent
September 18, 2004

“With the presidential elections just around the corner, “The Family,” at 673 pages, is a must read. “The Family” is an in-depth look at the Bush family’s roots and its rise to political and financial fame.” 

Desiree Balmarez
The Rocky Mountain Collegian
September 30, 2004

“Kelley’s goal is to paint the Bush family as a contemporary American aristocracy, and she succeeds in doing so…Over the course of her intergenerational narrative, Kelley illustrates how each Bush patriarch became increasingly more privileged, increasingly wealthier, and increasingly more imperious.” 

Beth Garrison
The Cavalier Daily
September 23, 2004

“The Family…is a well-paced and important story about a singular family in American politics.” 

Graham Reid
New Zealand Herald
September 19, 2004

The Royals

“Pages that genuinely illuminate the careers of the flawed humans who have occupied and circled the throne this century. Never before have all the stories about all the bit players, from Prince Philip to Princess Margaret, from the Queen Mother to the grimly devoted old courtiers, been collected in a single, useful place.”

Washington Post Book World

“Salacious…irreverent…juicy details…the product of four years’ research…Regarded as the most sensational of her scandal-packed oeuvre…Gripping.”

Chicago Sun Times

“Don’t you want to know who treated and counseled ‘Fergie’ and for what? Don’t you want to know the subject that was discussed on the missing minutes of the Princess Diana-James ‘Squidgy’ Gilbey tapes? Don’t you want to see the pictures of Edward and Mrs. Simpson greeting Hitler with a warm clasp?”

Los Angeles Times

“A rarefied look inside the world of aristocracy.”

Philadelphia Inquirer

“Controversial… an often fascinating look at what everyone seems to be talking about in the wake of the death of the Princess of Wales…The Royals is actually a close, and not always flattering, view of the entire royal family, starting with the present queen’s mother and father.”

Dallas Morning News


Vanity Fair

“Miss Kelley is a fine writer and indefatigable researcher…She has lost none of her edge here in The Royals…A delightful read…As early as the second page, Miss Kelley is referring to the royal family’s ‘secrets of alcoholism, drug addiction, insanity, homosexuality, bisexuality, adultery, infidelity and illegitimacy’ in this century. None of this is exaggerated, none of it is false.”

Washington Times

“Scathing…a tonic following the near-canonization of the People’s Princess.”

Entertainment Weekly

“Entertaining…Fun to read…Good stuff.”

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“The larger, hotter rumors are as interesting for the way they are presented and justified as for what they contain.”

The New Yorker

“Illuminating insight into the royals’ lives and history.”


The Observer (London)

“The best pages in The Royals are about the hedonistic lives of Princess Margaret and her former husband, Anthony Armstrong Jones/Lord Snowden…The Royals makes a battle mace with which to dent a rusting crown”

San Diego Union-Tribune

“A genuinely independent book about the monarchy.”

The Guardian (London)

“An irresistible book…Kelley does a boffo job on Sarah Ferguson…her description of the Duke of Windsor…is worthy of Noel Coward…her Diana stories are a welcome antidote to the lachrymose news coverage of her death and funeral, as refreshing as sherbet between heavy courses. Choose your flavor.”

American Spectator

“A smorgasbord of scandalous tidbits…warts-and-all biography.”


“Kelley’s book sizzles.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Kelley’s pen is mightier than the sword.”

Houston Voice

Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography

“Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography…is no mean achievement…Exhaustively researched, packed with quotes…anecdotes and detail…it has an understandable fascination.”


“A vital portrait of Nancy emerges from Kelley’s book—if you think character is biography, Nancy Reagan succeeds…Is it nasty good fun…you bet.”

Philadelphia Inquirer

“Explosive…bursts with revelations.”

New York Daily News


Harrison E. Salisbury
New York Newsday

“Of all the fictions perpetrated in American politics, perhaps one of the most absurd is that First Ladies have no power…Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography by Kitty Kelley could forever shatter that myth…In Ms. Kelley’s scalding portrait…the picture of an American political family falling apart, over and over and over…is both POIGNANT AND WITHERING.”

The New York Times

“KITTY KELLEY’S BIOGRAPHY IS A SOBER CLASSIC, a study of what it means to be an American…EXCELLENT.”

Washington Post Book World

“Kelley is reputed to be the Saddam Hussein of privacy invasion. But if biography doesn’t invade privacy it simply isn’t doing its job…We’ve created—and Kelley has every right to take advantage of this—a culture that thrives on scandal and gossip about the rich, famous and powerful.”


“KELLEY HAS PRODUCED A BOOK THAT EXPOSES MORE INTIMATE DETAILS THAN EVER BEFORE REVEALED ABOUT A LIVING FORMER PRESIDENT’S WIFE. NANCY REAGAN: The Unauthorized Biography…is a tough book about a tough woman. It is also an important book, breaking the polite publishing taboo that has protected first ladies…”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Those who like and respect The Gipper and his beloved Nancy will loathe this book…THOSE WHO LOVE TO HATE THE FORMER FIRST COUPLE WILL… STAY UP ALL NIGHT READING IT. Kelley spared few dark details about this journey from casting couch to Oval Office…”

Orlando Sentinel

“Ms. Kelley…specializes in dishing up dirt on celebrities…it is quite fun reading about Mrs. Reagan’s bizarre present-giving habits (she recycled unwanted booty) and other minor foibles.”

The Economist

“GOSSIP SERVES AS JUSTICE IN A CORRUPT WORLD…In a real sense, the Reagans are getting the comeuppance they deserve…turnabout against hypocrites is always fair play, whatever their politics, and NO SYSTEM YET HAS DEVISED A MORE EXQUISITE FORM OF PUNISHMENT THAN THE UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY.”

The Nation

“This biography of Nancy Reagan sheds some light on one of the most influential people ever to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave…THE STORIES KELLEY TELLS WILL MAKE YOUR HAIR STAND ON END.”

Baton Rouge Magazine

“The much-ballyhooed book…SERIOUSLY CHALLENGES WHAT LONG HAS BEEN THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM ABOUT NANCY REAGAN’S ROLE AT THE WHITE HOUSE. And in so doing, it adds to the already burgeoning historical record of President Reagan’s many failures to fully take command of his own Administration and deals yet another blow to his place in history.”

Los Angeles Times

“NANCY REAGAN: The Unauthorized Biography a briskly written exposé based on four years of research and 1,002 interviews with former White House aides, Reagan family members and others. ITS CONCLUSIONS HAVE THE RING OF TRUTH…”

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“KITTY KELLEY’S PAGE-TURNER ABOUT NANCY REAGAN SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT THE REST OF US TOO… because Nancy Reagan is not the only one this biography indicts. It indicts a society content to elect and then reelect a puppet to the presidency, to overlook his vacantness, to idealize his idiocy, to ignore the incontrovertible evidence of his hypocrisy and, finally, to reward his greed.”

Boston Globe

“…THE TELL-ALL BIOGRAPHY…NANCY REAGAN: The Unauthorized Biography has left the former first lady’s carefully crafted public images as shattered as the pathetic monument in Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias.’”

Chicago Tribune

“The explosive book paints Nancy Reagan as the embodiment of 1980s greed—a power-hungry, image- obsessed woman who, guided by astrologers, ran the White House…. IT BURSTS WITH REVELATIONS.”

New York Daily News

His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra

“The most eye-opening celebrity biography of our time.”

William Safire
New York Times

“‘His Way’…reduces the legend of ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ to rubble…by the relentless accumulation of evidence.”

Jonathan Yardley
Washington Post Book World

“A compelling page-turner… Kitty Kelley’s book has made all future Sinatra biographies virtually redundant.”

Los Angeles Herald Examiner