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Articles tagged with: biography

American Exceptional

July 1st, 2015
American Exceptional

Adam Begley’s long and exhaustive biography of iconic 20th century author John Updike reads like one long string of new books and new love affairs – but does it capture the man?

Book Review: James Merrill – Life and Art

April 12th, 2015
james merrill cover

The poet James Merrill at long last gets the lavish soup-to-nuts biography he’s always deserved

Book Review: Bonaparte, 1769-1802

April 6th, 2015
bonaparte cover

A gigantic new biography chronicles the rise-to-power of Napoleon Bonaparte

Book Review: Young Eliot

March 21st, 2015
young eliot cover

A lavishly-detailed new biography shows us Thomas Stearns Eliot in his slightly fussy, slightly feckless pre-fame years

Book Review: Machiavelli

February 15th, 2015
Book Review: Machiavelli

An engaging new book looks at that perennial fascination for biographers, Niccolo Machiavelli


January 1st, 2015

James Laughlin started a publishing imprint, New Directions, by selling what would become a syllabus of Modern writing from the trunk of his car.

Book Review: America’s Pastor

November 11th, 2014
america’s pastor cover

For half a century, preacher Billy Graham was an unofficial spiritual advisor to presidents and rock stars; a new biography attempts to assess his impact on mainstream American religious thought

Book Review: Eugene O’Neill – A Life in Four Acts

November 1st, 2014
eugene o’neill cover

A punchy and intensely readable new biography of America’s greatest playwright

Book Review: The Marquis

October 28th, 2014
the marquis cover

The boyish hero of the American Revolution who became a more problematic and complicated figure in the political upheavals of his native France, the celebrated Marquis de Lafayette gets a sparkling new biography

Book Review: Imprudent King

October 26th, 2014
imprudent king cover

He ruled an empire on which, it was famously said, the sun never set – and he did all the paperwork himself! It’s a new life of King Philip II of Spain

Book Review: Joan of Arc – A Life Transfigured

October 23rd, 2014
joan cover

The mighty Maid who led medieval France’s armies to a string of improbable victories before being burned at the stake for witchcraft has been immortalized in song, on stage, on film – and in countless books. A new biography is the latest to tell the tale.

Book Review: Robert the Bruce

August 1st, 2014
Book Review: Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots
by Michael Penman
Yale University Press, 2014
This summer marks the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the epic confrontation in June 1314 between the English troops of Edward II …

Book Review: Michelangelo – A Life in Six Masterpieces

July 20th, 2014
michelangelo cover

A new biography looks at the long life of one of mankind’s greatest artists through six of his greatest works

Book Review: The Unknown Lloyd George

July 3rd, 2014
the unknown lloyd george cover

One of the greatest British Prime Ministers of them all gets an authoritative new biography

Book Review: Price of Fame

June 30th, 2014
price of fame cover

Diplomat, author, congresswoman, power broker, playwright – Clare Boothe Luce crammed an enormous amount of living into her life, and the concluding volume of Sylvia Jukes Morris’s essential biography gives it all the sparkling narration it deserves

Book Review: Queen Anne – Patroness of Arts

June 27th, 2014
queen anne patroness cover

John Anderson Winn’s thumpingly good new book studies the life and reign of Queen Anne through the least likely focus of them all – and succeeds wonderfully on all counts

Book Review: Stephen Crane – A Life of Fire

June 20th, 2014
stephen crane cover

The young author of “The Red Badge of Courage” is the subject of a lively and very readable new biography

Book Review: Louisa Catherine – The Other Mrs. Adams

April 5th, 2014
louisa catherine cover

Cultured, erudite, and passionate, Louisa Catherine Adams had a long and fascinating life as wife to John Quincy Adams on the road to the presidency, and that life at long last has a superb biography

Book Review: Wilfred Owen

April 5th, 2014
wilfred owen cover

Robert Graves lived to be 90.

Book Review: Faisal I of Iraq

February 23rd, 2014
faisal i of iraq

A key figure in the founding of the modern Middle East finally gets his definitive English-language biography

Book Review: Holding On Upside Down

December 19th, 2013
holding on upside down

One of the 20th Century’s greatest poets finally gets her definitive biography

Book Review: Wellington, The Path to Victory

December 7th, 2013
wellington rory muir

A massive new biography serves to remind us that war and politics were always intricately connected in the life of the Duke of Wellington

Book Review: Musorgsky & His Circle

November 29th, 2013

Five remarkable men came together in 19th century St. Petersburg to challenge each other, compete with each other, inspire each other, and encourage each other – and some quite remarkable music resulted

Book Review: George Washington – Gentleman Warrior

November 10th, 2013

A born warrior striving to become a refined gentleman, or a refined gentleman striving to learn a warrior’s ways? A new book looks at Washington the military commander

Book Review: ‘Mr. President’

November 1st, 2013

First in war, first in peace, first in line for the powers of a god

Book Review: Jonathan Swift

October 24th, 2013
jonathan swift leo damrosch

It’s not every writer who can write a book that stays in print continuously for 300 years, but the author of “Gulliver’s Travels” is one of those writers. A lively new biography looks at the great Jonathan Swift

Book Review: Queen Anne

October 18th, 2013
queen anne cover

The much-vexed life of the last Stuart monarch gets a gripping, electrifyingly good new examination

Book Review: Jack London, An American Life

October 15th, 2013
Book Review: Jack London, An American Life

A new life of Jack London – by the world’s foremost authority on the man’s life and work.

Book Review: My Crazy Century

October 13th, 2013
my crazy century hc

Now at last in an English translation: the heart-breaking, history-making memoir of the world’s greatest Czech writer

Book Review: Jefferson and Hamilton

October 4th, 2013
jefferson and hamilton

A master historian analyzes the tempestuous relationship between two titans of the newborn United States

God, the Janitor, and the Psychic Hermaphrodites

September 1st, 2013
God, the Janitor, and the Psychic Hermaphrodites

Henry Darger, icon of Outsider Art, created unnerving scenes of naked, tortured children. A new biography sets out to clear his name from would-be charges of pedophilia–but is it a reputation that really needs saving?

Book Review: The Letters of T. S. Eliot

August 11th, 2013
eliot letters

The exhaustive Yale edition of the complete correspondence of T. S. Eliot reaches a very busy period in the life of Eliot the editor and businessman, working away at the center of a vast and fascinating literary world

Book Review: Benjamin Britten – A Life For Music

August 7th, 2013

The great – and problematic – 20th century composer gets a broad-minded and intensely sensitive new biography

Book Review: Kafka – The Years of Insight

July 21st, 2013
Book Review: Kafka – The Years of Insight

The latest volume in the author’s magnificent multi-volume biography covers the last years of Kafka’s life – years marked by passionate affairs, political upheavals, and the shadow of his final illness

In Paperback: Kafka – The Decisive Years

July 21st, 2013
kafka years of insight

Now in an attractive reprint from Princeton: the first volume in Reiner Stach’s towering multi-volume biography of the 20th century’s troubled literary godfather

Book Review: Franz Kafka, The Poet of Shame and Guilt

July 19th, 2013
Book Review: Franz Kafka, The Poet of Shame and Guilt

A short Kafka biography by a renowned historian makes some unconventional interpretations of the 20th century’s most enigmatic writer

Book Review: Nelson – The Sword of Albion

July 9th, 2013
nelson sword of albion

A monumental deck-clearing two-volume biography of Admiral Horatio Nelson reaches its thundering conclusion

Book Review: Edmund Burke, the First Conservative

May 18th, 2013
edmund burke jesse norman

The so-called ‘father of conservatism’ gets an aphoristic new biography from a very interested party.

Book Review: All the Glittering Prizes

May 16th, 2013
all the great prizes

The great diplomat and statesman John Hay is the subject of a riveting new biography

Book Review: The Borgias

April 8th, 2013
the borgias

They’re history’s most villainous family, adept at blackmail, poison, murder, and sacrilege – they even have their own TV series! But is it possible there’s more bad press than bad people to the Borgia family? A fascinating new book takes the case back to the basics

Now in Paperback: Heinrich Himmler

April 8th, 2013

The authoritative new biography – now in an enormous paperback – of the architect of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution”

Classics Reissued: Marcel Proust – A Life

April 8th, 2013
proust – carter

A splendid reissue of the definitive Marcel Proust biography attempts to show readers the jester, the critic, and the energetic editor in addition to the garrulous fop

Book Review: Bolivar

April 7th, 2013
bolivar – arana

The “George Washington of South America” was far more complex and interesting than his familiar tag-line suggests – as a big, fantastic new biography makes abundantly clear

Back in Paperback: The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy

March 22nd, 2013
halberstam rfk

David Halberstam’s 1968 profile of candidate Robert Kennedy gets a new reprint for a new generation

Book Review: Louis Agassiz

March 8th, 2013

He revolutionized modern science, and then modern science left him behind. Now a glowing new biography introduces him to a new generation.

Classics Reissued: Alexander of Macedon

January 7th, 2013
alexander of macedon

One of the best – and certainly the most contentious – biographies of Alexander the Great gets an attractive new reprint.

Book Review: Cezanne

December 28th, 2012

“I paint, I work, I am free of thought” said Cezanne, and his thoughtless paintings changed art forever. A cinematic new biography explores the man’s life and art.

Traveler at his Desk

December 1st, 2012
Traveler at his Desk

Burgess gave himself room to stretch his arms (and facts) in the two volumes of his Confessions. That space to digress, opine, sing songs, is what makes both books so memorable — even indispensable.

Book Review: The Life of George Eliot

September 20th, 2012

A careful and discerning new biography tackles that most daunting of all great Victorian novelists, George Eliot – with largely praiseworthy results.

Now in Paperback: King Stephen

September 6th, 2012
king stephen

Now in paperback: the most comprehensive, opinionated, and even-handed biography poor unlucky oath-breaking King Stephen is ever likely to get – or deserve.

Book Review: Terrible Swift Sword

August 19th, 2012
terrible swift sword

An engaging – perhaps a touch too engaging – new biography of fourth four-star general in U.S. history: Phil Sheridan

Classics Reissued: The Brontes

August 17th, 2012
the brontes

The passionate, complicated Bronte family is the subject of Juliet Barker’s massive, definitive biography, now given a sumptuous new edition

Book Review: James Madison

August 16th, 2012
james madison

An accessible, well-researched new biography takes a largely approving look at America’s fourth president, James Madison.

From the Archives: I Talk & Laugh & Listen

July 1st, 2012

She oversaw an shepherded the House of Windsor for a century and did more to shape its present character than anyone. Three years ago William Shawcross wrote an official and none-too-gossipy biography.

Book Review: Michelangelo

May 19th, 2012
Michelangelo jacket

The first volume in a magisterial new two-volume biography of the greatest Renaissance artist of them all!

Book Review: My Two Moms

May 11th, 2012

The well-spoken son of a lesbian couple becomes a YouTube sensation – and an author.

Book Review: The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens

May 5th, 2012
selected letters of charles dickens

A heapingly generous helping of the letters of history’s most popular novelist

Book Review: Uncovering the Truth about Meriwether Lewis

April 22nd, 2012
uncovering the truth about meriwether lewis – feb 2012

a new book sifts the evidence for a few flash-point topics in the life of Meriwether Lewis

Book Review: The Crimes of Elagabalus

March 29th, 2012

A solid, enjoyable new biography of one of ancient Rome’s most notorious gay teen-emperors!

Book Review: The Last Pre-Raphaelite

March 23rd, 2012
the last pre-raphaelite

A big new biography of Edward Burne-Jones, whose vivid and dreamlike artwork caught the sentimentality of his time and shaped it to immortal perfection.

Book Review: Henry VIII

January 24th, 2012
loades henry viii

A masterful new biography takes Henry VIII down a peg or two

Book Review: Ben Jonson

January 22nd, 2012
ben jonson – jan 2012

A brilliant new biography of the great man of the English Renaissance

Book Review: Catherine the Great

November 19th, 2011
catherine the great

She nearly doubled the size of the Russian empire, she debated with philosophers, she endowed the first women’s college in Russia, and she was a beloved mother to her people for 34 years – and she had a steady stream of lovers through it all. She was Catherine the Great.

Now in Paperback: Napoleon

November 15th, 2011

Arcade Publishing re-issues Frank McLynn’s merrily magnificent biography of that pestiferous little Corsican!

Book Review: Caravaggio

October 9th, 2011

A lively new biography of the artist whose work – and life – lives on the borderland of light and dark

Book Review: Mary I

September 24th, 2011
mary 1

A quietly stunning new biography of England’s infamous “Bloody Mary”

Book Review: Byron in Geneva

August 21st, 2011
byron in geneva cover

Joining the innumerable hosts of Byron biographies, a new book looks at the heartthrob poet’s brief but legendary sojourn to Geneva


December 1st, 2010

For two centuries, he’s been the founding myth of his nation: first in war, first in peace, Washington the paragon. Ron Chernow’s new biography does nothing to tarnish that image — but should it?

Onward, Muriel, Onward!

May 1st, 2010
muriel spark

Perceptive, cosmopolitan British novelist Muriel Spark has at last received an enormous and long-promised biography. Is justice done – or perhaps overdone?