Lynne V. Cheney (1941-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1941, in Casper, WY; Education: Colorado College, B.A., 1963; University of Colorado, M.A., 1964; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Ph.D., 1970. Politics: Republican. Religion: Methodist.
Office—American Enterprise Institute, 1150 17th St. NW, Ste. 1100, Washington, DC 20036-4603. Agent—Bill Adler, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
Freelance writer, 1970-83; George Washington University, Washington, DC, lecturer in English, 1974-76; University of Wyoming, Casper, lecturer in English, 1977-78; Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting, Owings Mills, writer and researcher, 1982-83; editor of Washingtonian magazine, 1983-86; National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC, chairperson, 1986-93; W. H. Brady fellow, American Enterprise Institute, 1993-96, senior fellow, 1996—. Co-host of CNN series Crossfire Sunday, 1996-98. Commissioner, U.S. Constitutional Bicentennial Commission, 1985-87.
Congressional Club, Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Alpha Theta.
Executive Privilege (novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1979.
Sisters (novel), New American Library (New York, NY), 1981.
(With husband, Richard B. Cheney) Kings of the Hill: Power and Personality in the House of Representatives, Crossroads (New York, NY), 1983.
(With Victor Gold) The Body Politic, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Telling the Truth: Why Our Schools, Our Culture, and Our Country Have Stopped Making Sense, and What We Can Do about It, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
America: A Patriotic Primer (children's book), illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
A Is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women (children's book), illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Author of papers on education published by the National Endowment for the Humanities, including American Memory: A Report on the Humanities in the Nation's Public Schools, 1987, Humanities in America: A Report to the President, the Congress, and the American People, 1988, Fifty Hours: A Core Curriculum for College Students, 1989, and Tyrannical Machines: A Report on Educational Practices Gone Wrong and Our Best Hopes for Setting Them Right, 1990. Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including Smithsonian and American Heritage.
Work in Progress
When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots, illustrated by Peter Fiore, for Simon & Schuster.
Though a writer herself, Lynne V. Cheney is better known for work that has had a direct effect on the careers of other creative artists. As head of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from 1986 to 1993, Cheney has been credited with raising awareness of the arts in America while taking firm stands during debates over the public funding of controversial works. In her role as "Second Lady" as the wife of U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Cheney continued her support of educational and cultural issues.
Cheney first met her husband in 1958 at Natrona County High School in Casper, Wyoming, and moved with her husband to Washington, D.C., in the 1970s. While working as an English instructor at George Washington University, Cheney published her first novel, Executive Privilege. The story of two reporters who wrestle to decide whether to publish a scoop at the expense of national security, Executive Privilege was noted more for the fact that a "Washington wife" had penned it and less on the book's own merits.
In 1985 President Ronald Reagan named Cheney as head of the NEH, the small government agency that endows projects on history, philosophy, language, literature, criticism, comparative religion, and other topics. Often confused in the public's mind with the larger, more vocal National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the NEH was described by Cheney in a Christian Science Monitor interview with Louise Sweeney: "If you write a poem, then that is [NEA] business. If you write about a poem, then you come to the Humanities endowment."
Cheney has been credited with raising awareness of the need for humanities training in education, and she expresses her outlook in her 1995 book, Telling the Truth: Why Our Schools, Our Culture, and Our Country Have Stopped Making Sense, and What We Can Do about It. Here Cheney takes on what she sees as the damage wrought by the politics of "relativism" and political correctness: everything from "multiculturalism in primary and secondary education" to "radical feminist legal theory in legal education and jurisprudence," as a Booklist reviewer noted. "The thesis of the book," as Cheney was quoted as saying in a Los Angeles Times review, "is that we have fallen into a time when we think that there is no truth, that there are only various stories that we construct, and that every story is as valid as any other."
In light of her husband's campaign for vice president of the United States, Cheney's 1989 novel, The Body Politic, was reissued by St. Martin's Press. The novel's many similarities to the 2000 presidential campaign raised the eyebrows of several reviewers. Cheney's writing took a different turn following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America. As Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Lee Colvin observed, she became "even more passionate about instilling in American youth an appreciation of the values that underpin democracy." Cheney began her campaign with the most basic type of book: an alphabet reader for young children. In America: A Patriotic Primer each letter of the alphabet highlights a different aspect of the American way of life.
In an interview on KidsReads.com, Cheney stated that the idea for America first came to her while traveling during the 2000 presidential campaign. As Cheney recalled, "Seeing the great cities and the natural beauty of the country, meeting people from all across the land, I found myself so deeply moved, time and again. I love this country, and there is so much about it to love, and I wanted to make sure that my grandchildren—that all children—understand that." Cheney also noted that the events of September 11th had a profound effect on the work, stating, "It made it more important to me. This is a book that helps little kids understand the principles our country is based on, the ideas that underlie our freedom. When we are under attack, it's particularly important that the next generation understand the foundations of our liberty."
Cheney selected diverse images for her primer: K, for instance, is for King, as in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who "fought for justice with prayers." The letter N celebrates Native Americans, who "came here first." The letter G, for God, was considered by some to be a controversial choice; noted School Library Journal reviewer Dona Ratteree, "for a country founded on the notion of the separation of church and state, God seems to pop up at every turn" in America. A Publishers Weekly critic deemed the work "well-intentioned if rather listless," but added that "children will likely pore over the pages to glean the interesting tidbits offered." In Booklist Carolyn Phelan called America "an inviting choice," and a contributor in Kirkus Reviews stated that the book "packs a huge amount of information between its covers."
In 2003 Cheney published A Is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women as a companion to America. In this work she profiles female scientists, athletes, entrepreneurs, performers, writers, politicians, and other pioneering figures from American history. A Is for Abigail covers both the famous—such as abolitionist Harriet Tubman and poet Emily Dickinson—and the not-so-famous—such as Marion Donovan, the inventor of the disposable diaper. "We wanted to include women who had achieved in all sorts of different ways and we wanted the perspective to be historical," Cheney remarked in a Publishers Weekly interview with Sally Lodge. Reviewing A Is for Abigail in School Library Journal, Lynda Ritterman stated that "While the information is limited, the overall effect creates an awareness of the totality of American women's achievements," and a Publishers Weekly contributor remarked that "a plethora of strong quotes add women's voices to this light-hearted history lesson."
Proceeds from both America and A Is for Abigail have helped fund the James Madison Book Award, which Cheney established in 2003. "I hope that by recognizing books that teach children and young people about our country's past, this award will encourage authors to take up this subject and publishers to seek out writers who can make American history come alive," she stated on the award's Web site. Named after James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, the award is presented to the book that "best represents excellence in bringing knowledge and understanding of American history to children ages five to fourteen." Author Peter Busby and illustrator David Craig were the recipients of the first annual award for their nonfiction picture book First to Fly: How Wilbur and Orville Wright Invented the Airplane.
America and A Is for Abigail represent Cheney's efforts to raise the consciousness of youth to the country's history and heritage. According to the results of a history test given by the National Assessment of Educational Programs, only eleven percent of U.S. high school seniors demonstrated adequate knowledge of American history. While singling out poor teacher training, Cheney also said that a lack of insight about the past can influence the country's future. She also acknowledged, in Colvin's words, that "schools are not solely responsible for conveying that message." "We're all teachers," Cheney told the interviewer.
Cheney is a voracious reader, and she cites the Brontë sisters and George Eliot as writers she admires. Her favorite books, however, are mysteries and thrillers. "It's hard to beat David Copperfield," she told Henneberger, "but I've often thought Stephen King is our Dickens."
Biographical and Critical Sources
American Decades 1990-1999, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Cheney, Lynne V., Telling the Truth: Why Our Schools, Our Culture, and Our Country Have Stopped Making Sense, and What We Can Do about It, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Newsmakers, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.
America, April 1, 1989; November 21, 1992, John W. Donohue, "Mrs. Cheney on Pursuit of Truth," p. 396; October 12, 1996, review of Telling the Truth: Why Our Schools, Our Culture and Our Country Have Stopped Making Sense, and What We Can Do about It, pp. 26-27.
American Enterprise, April, 2001, Scott Walter, "'Live' with TAE," p. 16.
Booklist, October 1, 1995, Ray Olsen, review of Telling the Truth, p. 236; June 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of America: A Patriotic Primer, p. 1711.
Change, January-February, 1986.
Children's Digest, September-October, 2003, Ana Maria Correa, review of America, p. 26; January-February, 2004, review of A Is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women, pp. 10-11.
Christian Science Monitor, September 15, 1988; August 14, 1986, Louise Sweeney, interview with Cheney.
Chronicle of Higher Education, September 29, 2000, Elaine Showalter, "Lynne Cheney: Feminist Intellectual?," p. B11.
Cosmopolitan, February, 1990.
Harper's Bazaar, July, 2001, Melinda Henneberger, "The Right Wife," pp. 127-132.
Houston Chronicle, June 15, 2002, p. 1.
Insight on the News, October 16, 1995, Stephen Goode, "Telling the Truth: Proud to Be Americans," p. 11.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of America, p. 651; September 1, 2003, review of A Is for Abigail, p. 1121.
Library Journal, November 15, 1995, Gary D. Barber, review of Telling the Truth, p. 90.
Los Angeles Times, July 26, 2000, Geraldine Baum, "Conservatives Find Much to Applaud in Lynne Cheney," p. A11; May 19, 2002, Richard Lee Colvin, "Lynne Cheney Champions the Need to Learn History," p. A24.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 25, 1995, p. 1E.
NAASP Bulletin, Tom Koerner, "The Humanities in the School—Source of Enrichment and Wisdom," pp. 51-60.
Nation, May 20, 2002, James Loewen, "The New Old Glory," p. 20.
National Forum, summer, 1989, "Canons, Cultural Literacy, and the Core Curriculum," pp. 10-12.
New Republic, January 2, 1995, Jon Wiener, "History Lesson," pp. 9-11; February 12, 2001, Franklin Foer, "Washington Diarist—Anxiety of Influence," p. 50.
Newsweek, September 1, 1986; March 19, 2001, Martha Brant, "From an Unlikely Perch, 'SLOTUS' Takes Control," p. 26; July 15, 2002, Eleanor Clift, "VP Life: Lynne Cheney Tries to Be Positive," p. 8.
New York, May 27, 1996, Jacob Weisberg, "Old Ball and Cheney," pp. 20-21.
New York Times, June 19, 1979; June 12, 1986; June 16, 1986; August 31, 1987; September 28, 1989; October 25, 1989; December 17, 1989; February 6, 2001, Melinda Henneberger, "This Second Lady Is Keeping Her Day Job," p. A1.
New York Times Book Review, February 2, 1989; December 10, 1995, Thomas Kean, review of Telling the Truth, p. 40.
Parenting, June 1, 2002, Dina Roth, "Kid-Friendly History Lessons," p. 31.
People, June 27, 1983, Ken Huff, "In Politics and Now In Print, Wyoming's Dick and Lynne Cheney Go a Country Mile for Each Other," pp. 82-84.
Phi Delta Kappan, April, 1988.
Publishers Weekly, April 22, 1983, review of Kings of the Hill: Power and Personality in the House of Representatives, p. 92; October 7, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Body Politic, pp. 103-104; September 4, 1995, review of Telling the Truth, p. 59; March 25, 2002, review of America, p. 62; September 1, 2003, Sally Lodge, "The ABCs of Women's History," p. 88, and review of A Is for Abigail, p. 88.
Saturday Evening Post, March-April, 2002, "American Enterprise Institute," p. 11.
School Library Journal, July, 2002, Dona Ratteree, review of America, p. 104; September, 2003, Lynda Ritterman, review of A Is for Abigail, pp. 196-197.
Self, September, 1990.
Time for Kids, May 10, 2002, Elizabeth Winchester, "America's Story from A to Z," p. 7.
Times Higher Educational Supplement, October 28, 1994, Lucy Hodges, "A Lady Fond of Dead White Males," p. 17.
United Press International, July 26, 2000, "Lynne Cheney: A Lightning Rod for Passionate Debate," p. 1008207; April 5, 2003, "Twenty Years On, U.S. Education Still at Risk," p. 1008094.
U.S. News and World Report, August 7, 2000, Angie Cannon, "Homecoming Queen Makes Good," p. 25; June 17, 2002, Linda Kulman, "The ABCs of Lynne Cheney," p. 8.
Washingtonian, November, 1991, Ken Adelman, "What Do We Know?," pp. 49-54; June, 2002, Ken Adelman, "What's Important," pp. 25-30.
Washington Post, July 2, 1979; March 18, 1986, Jack Limpert, review of Executive Privilege; September 18, 2002, Mike Allen, "For Lynne Cheney, the Children's Hour," p. A27.
Washington Post Book World, October 22, 1995, p. 3.
Washington Times, July 26, 2000, Julia Duin, "Lynne Cheney Fought Cultural Left," p. 12; June 30, 2002, Jen Waters, "'Patriotic' Alphabet for the Young," p. D04; September 5, 2002, Jon Ward, "'Cheerleader' for U.S. History," p. B3; May 2, 2003, George Archibald, "First lady, Lynne Cheney Promotes History for Children," p. A12.
White House Weekly, June 5, 2001, Barbra Murray, "Patriotism and Education Go Hand in Hand, Cheney Says," p. 5.
Women's Quarterly, spring, 2001, "The Truth and Lynne Cheney."
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research Web site, http://www.aei.org/ (March 11, 2004), "Lynne V. Cheney."
James Madison Book Award, http://www.jamesmadisonbookaward.org/ (April 5, 2004).
KidsReads.com, http://www.kidsreads.com/ (March 11, 2004), "Q and A with Lynne Cheney."
White House Web site, http://www.whitehouse.gov/ (March 11, 2004), "Lynne V. Cheney."*