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Find more Top 10 Biographies
The subjects of the top biographies reviewed in Booklist between June 2006 and May 2007 are varied, but each biographer is similarly adept at discerning the complexity of the life under scrutiny, and honoring both what is unique about an individual and what is quintessentially human.
“All Governments Lie”: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone. By Myra MacPherson. 2006. Scribner/Lisa Drew, $35 (0-684-80713-0).
MacPherson does the legendary I. F. Stone ample justice in this painstakingly researched biography of the progressive journalist.
Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature. By Linda Lear. 2007. Penguin/Allen Lane, $30 (0-312-36934-4).
Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s books are rooted in a passion for place that environmental historian Lear interprets with rare perception in this meticulous and fascinating biography of an ardent defender of nature and a beautifully expressive storyteller.
Edith Wharton. By Hermione Lee. 2007. Knopf, $35 (0-375-40004-4).
Lee’s sensitive interpretation of the life and work of Edith Wharton, the grande dame of American letters, is profoundly enlightening and destined to stand as a landmark in literary biography.
Einstein: His Life and Universe. By Walter Isaacson. 2007. Simon & Schuster, $32 (0-7432-6473-8).
Isaacson’s penetrating and nuanced portrait of Einstein elucidates more clearly than any previous work the brilliant scientist and humanitarian’s temperament and beliefs.
The Lady Upstairs: Dorothy Schiff and the New York Post. By Marilyn Nissenson. 2007. St. Martin’s, $27.95 (9780312313104).
A thrilling biography of the strong-minded, socially prominent, and charming woman who skillfully piloted the New York Post from 1939 to 1976.
LBJ: Architect of American Ambition. By Randall B. Woods. 2006. Free Press, $35 (0-684-83458-8).
Woods presents a fresh, astute, and timely biography that portrays President Lyndon Baines Johnson as an inwardly liberal yet outwardly moderate leader and a master of political calculus.
Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl. By Steven Bach. 2007. Knopf, $30 (0-375-40400-7).
As the Third Reich’s reigning cinematographer, Riefenstahl raises many thorny questions about morality and art that Bach incisively considers in this superbly well written and penetrating portrait of a woman of tremendous vitality and zero compassion.
Love, Life, Goethe: Lessons of the Imagination from the Great German Poet. By John Armstrong. 2007. Farrar, $27 (9780374299682).
Armstrong’s thoughtful analysis of Goethe’s life and works enables readers to fully appreciate the great German poet as an eminently human genius striving for growth and wholeness.
Mandela: The Authorized Portrait. Ed. by Mac Maharaj and Ahmed Kathrada. 2006. Andrews McNeel, $50 (0-7407-5572-2).
Public and private aspects of Mandela are illuminated in this large-format volume of beautiful photographs, frank biographical insights, and moving tributes by world figures and the great freedom fighter’s fellow political prisoners.
Mellon: An American Life. By David Cannadine. 2006. Knopf, $35 (0-679-45032-7).
The first comprehensive biography of Andrew Mellon, the powerful American financier, secretary of the treasury, and art collector, is not only supremely informative but also eloquent and evenhanded.
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