Brand New Book. Eartha Kitt was a skinny, mixed-race woman with an odd, angular face, who seduced fifties white America into thinking that she was, in the words of Orson Welles, the most exciting woman in the world . She could count Marilyn Monroe, T.S. Eliot, Prince Philip and Albert Einstein among her friends and admirers, and was almost able to forget she had once been a poor black girl from the Deep South. But her new persona was also a prison from which she found it impossible to escape. John L. Williams moving and unsettling biography shows a star adrift in a bewildering new America torn apart by the Civil Rights movement. Shunned by many of her former friends, shocked by her country s insiduous racism, and with a perilously fragile sense of her own identity, Eartha Kitt would pay the price that came from trying to be America s mistress.