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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Biographies
The art of biography involves sleuthing, historical fluency, captivating storytelling, critical acumen, and empathy, qualities on full display in the best 10 biographies reviewed in Booklist from July 2012 through June 2013, whether the authors are resurrecting the forgotten or bringing a unique perspective to the oft-celebrated.
And Bid Him Sing: A Biography of Countée Cullen. By Charles Molesworth. 2012. Univ. of Chicago, $30 (9780226533643).
As famous during the Harlem Renaissance as his close friend, Langston Hughes, Countée Cullen slipped into obscurity, a situation Molesworth remedies in this illuminating biography.
The Black Russian. By Vladimir Alexandrov. 2013. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (9780802120694).
Alexandrov traces the remarkable journey of Frederick Bruce Thomas from his birth in Mississippi in 1872 to his triumph in Russia as a brilliantly innovative nightclub owner and impresario.
Bolívar: American Liberator. By Marie Arana. 2013. Simon & Schuster, $35 (9781439110195).
Perceptive historian and luminous writer Arana presents a defining and exhilarating biography of the great South American liberator Simón Bolívar.
Champion of Choice: The Life and Legacy of Women’s Advocate Nafis Sadik. By Cathleen Miller. 2013. Univ. of Nebraska, $34.95 (9780803211049).
Miller vividly portrays tenacious crusader Sadik, who defied convention in Pakistan by earning a medical degree in obstetrics, championing women’s reproductive-health issues, and serving as the first female director of a United Nations agency.
Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson.By Barbara Ransby. 2013. Yale, $35 (9780300124347).
Ransby reveals that the wife of artist and activist Paul Robeson, Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson, was an accomplished anthropologist, activist, author, and international journalist.
I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. By Sylvie Simmons. 2012. Ecco, $27.99 (9780061994982).
In her richly anecdotal biography, Simmons chronicles the life and career of influential singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist Cohen.
James Joyce. By Gordon Bowker. 2012. Farrar, $35 (9780374178727).
Drawing on newly available materials, Bowker casts new light on literary genius Joyce’s life and revolutionary writings.
Margaret Fuller: A New American Life. By Megan Marshall. 2013. Houghton, $30 (9780547195605).
In her profoundly simpatico portrait of this pathbreaking feminist, teacher, writer, and first American female foreign correspondent, Marshall captures Fuller’s “passionate intensity” and courage.
On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson. By William Souder. 2012. Crown, $30 (9780307462206).
Souder deepens our appreciation for Carson’s trailblazing achievements and heroic sacrifices as a singular artist and clarion champion of the living world.
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis. By Timothy Egan. 2012. Houghton, $28 (9780618969029).
Popular historian Egan’s magnificent biography tells the astounding story of self-made master photographer Edward Curtis and his self-sacrificing mission to document the lives of Native Americans.
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