This massive tome (nearly 600 pages) is divided into five distinct sections that roughly correspond with the varying public images of Fonda throughout her 73 years: She has been the daughter of stage and screen legend Henry Fonda, a serious actress in her own right, an international sex symbol, a firebrand political activist, and an exercise guru (and semi-trophy wife to media tycoon Ted Turner).
The continuing thread is that all of the five stages of Jane have been played out in the public arena. Indeed, from her earliest years -- when Fonda attended celebrity kids' birthday parties with Christina Crawford and Marlo Thomas -- through her highly publicized marriages (and divorces), she has lived her life under a magnifying glass.
But unlike her contemporaries, Fonda has also been the subject of extensive government investigation, and Bosworth cleverly frames her book with a prologue describing a trip to Fonda's New Mexico ranch at which the two women dig through some 22,000 pages of her FBI file. Bosworth really shines in chronicling Fonda's political activism.
Indeed, while so much has been made -- and is still made -- of "Hanoi Jane," a moniker Fonda acquired after she was photographed smiling in the gunner's seat of an anti-aircraft weapon during one of her trips to North Vietnam, it is astounding to read about a time when high-profile celebrities such as Fonda openly flirted with Communism, as Fonda did. She was a frequent guest at the "Red Family," a hippie commune that kept a prominently-displayed shrine to Kim Il-Sung.
Yet, at the end of the day, as Bosworth reminds us, Fonda was and still is one of the most privileged women on earth, frequently jetting off to Saint Tropez, enjoying the luxury of her residences in Beverly Hills and Manhattan, and making her living as an actress -- one who was too often liable to register an ill thought-out emotional response to the injustices of this world. In many ways, the story of Jane Fonda is the story of social change in late 20th-century America.