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Published in: January-February 2020 issue.

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A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir
Edie Windsor, with Joshua Lyon
St. Martin’s Press. 288 pages, $23.95


Edie Windsor was the headliner in the 2013 case (U.S. v. Windsor) that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and paved the way for marriage equality. Her partner of forty years had died, leaving Edie burdened with inheritance taxes that wouldn’t have been levied in a heterosexual marriage. Well-known among activists, she was represented by high-level attorneys who used a Due Process argument to win the day.

            A Wild and Precious Life, Edie’s autobiography, sparkles with her life of brave decisions. Was it just looks, brains, extroversion, inordinate self-confidence, an innate sense of justice and decency that made her the powerhouse she was? Edie’s storytelling fuels such ruminations. Born in 1929 in Pennsylvania to a working-class Jewish family of strong personalities, she knew early on that she was lesbian. This was the 1940s, so she gave traditional marriage a shot, but a year later she was divorced and on her way to New York City, where she became a denizen of those legendary lesbian and gay bars of old Greenwich Village. A math whiz, she graduated from NYU and ended up working at IBM, becoming one of the first women in computing. Next she met Thea, a respected clinical psychologist, and soon the two lovebirds became a power couple.

            Because Edie died before completing her story, author Joshua Lyon has added useful context between chapters. Edie left her money to many causes in the community, including SAGE, a service organization for LGBT seniors. Edie Windsor’s life was graced with intelligence, courage, and parties, as is this autobiography.

Sarah Sarai

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