| Oct 10, 2010
Penguin Press: 906 pp., $40
On Dec. 14, 1799, an ominous, fog-like gloom hung over Mount Vernon. Sixty-seven-year-old George Washington was dying. The ex-president, his doctors believed, was suffering from "quinsy" (a...
| Jan 30, 2011
The Art of Not Sitting Pretty
St. Martin's Press: 479 pp., $35
Here comes that old question, the one that pops up when a new biography of a prominent artist or writer is published: Do we judge an artist by the life or the work?...
| Oct 10, 2010
If Trouble Don't Kill Me
A Family's Story of Brotherhood, War, and Bluegrass
Ralph Berrier Jr.
Crown: 304 pp., $25
We're all familiar with the standard musician biography: down-and-out upbringing, often involving the death of — or at least...
| Nov 3, 2010
Some years ago, I shared a barber with the late Mel Tormé. It was a small, low-key shop where the talk was usually sports and the music on the radio was always jazz or vocals from the American Songbook.
One morning, Tormé and I found ourselves pausing...
| May 17, 2011
It hardly seems possible that there could be room for yet another important biography on so iconic a star as Marlene Dietrich, already the subject of a remarkably candid yet detached memoir by her daughter Maria Riva and of the late Steven Bach's...
| Nov 23, 2010
The relationship of Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt has fascinated observers ever since they married. Friends and relatives were surprised in 1905 by the wedding of a handsome, flirtatious, fun-loving mama's boy to his serious-minded cousin, who did...
| Apr 10, 2011
The Last Greatest Magician in the World
Howard Thurston Versus Houdini & the Battles of the American Wizards
Tarcher/Penguin: 377 pp., $26.95
It takes some courage to write the biography of a man the reading public has mostly forgotten....
| Mar 6, 2011
Ah, the sounds of spring. The crack of the bat, the smack of the ball hitting the catcher's mitt, the ka-ching of cash registers totaling up sales of books on baseball out this season.
Just as ESPN seems to lean toward the American League East for...
| Nov 21, 2010
Random House: 770 pp., $35
After spending close to eight triumphant years in the White House, Theodore Roosevelt left Washington in 1909 on top of the world, a charismatic leader beloved by his countrymen and greeted...
| Nov 21, 2010
The handwritten pages of James Boswell's " London Journal 1762-1763" languished forgotten in a trunk in Scotland before being brought to light in the middle of the last century and issued under the auspices of Yale University. This event, together with...
| Dec 2, 2010
Film both mimics our dreams and provokes our fantasies. The idea that an individual's relationship with it might be a narcotic, a heady mood or attitude, an atmosphere that changes speed and temperature but can never be escaped is central to David...