Woman Waging Peace; Swanee Hunt's Memoir Explores Some Painful Events

By Smith, Karen Fragala | Newsweek International, January 22, 2007 | Go to article overview

Woman Waging Peace; Swanee Hunt's Memoir Explores Some Painful Events


Smith, Karen Fragala, Newsweek International


Byline: Karen Fragala Smith

Swanee Hunt's life story is as modestly opulent as a meal of black-eyed peas and corn bread served on fine china. Her father, a self-made oil magnate, preached hard work and frugality yet jetted around the world on a private plane. Swanee was born out of wedlock to a mistress 30 years Hunt's junior, who was "kept" in a modest home near his lavish estate. After the death of Hunt's first wife, Swanee's parents married and she moved into the home of the father she hardly knew. There, she developed the tenet that would determine her life's direction: "Every person is responsible for changing the world."

Her engaging new memoir, "Half-Life of a Zealot" (393 pages. Duke University Press ), tracks that aspiration from her early role as a preacher's wife to her current position as director of Harvard's Women and Public Policy Program and chair of the Women Waging Peace network. It is an intensely personal book. Hunt, 56, describes a miscarriage, the breakup of her first marriage, her disillusionment with organized religion and her constant need to prove her autonomy. She runs a marathon, completes a Ph.D. in theology and treks through Nepal.

Eventually, she embraces her family name--and fortune. …

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