Jeff Giles
March 22, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

All the Pain That Money Can Buy: The Life of Christina Onassis

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William Wright

We gave it an A-

In the annals of the rich and miserable, Christina Onassis stands out, if only because she was so rich and so miserable. At first glance, William Wright’s biography of the Greek shipping heiress, All the Pain That Money Can Buy: The Life of Christina Onassis, is a fairly straightforward story of the can’t-buy-me-love variety. Still, Wright is so thorough in detailing the many humiliations and few victories of Onassis’ short life that one reads his book compulsively and with a sort of wicked glee. There is Aristotle Onassis, Christina’s Lear-like father. There are Aristotle’s lovers and wives, most notably Maria Callas and a shockingly dull Jackie Kennedy. There are the countless fortune hunters, who found a willing victim in Christina. And, of course, there is the tragic heroine herself. Christina’s self-image was constantly in the red, and she lived her entire life on the rebound. She was childish, naive, obsessive, and suicidal. As an inexperienced 24-year-old, though, she had enough chutzpah to take over her father’s troubled company — one with a hundred executives, all of them men. Wright gives her ample credit for this and deserves credit himself for avoiding the sort of cheap shots another biographer might have enjoyed. A-

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