Books by Daniel Mark Epstein

THE LOYAL SON by Daniel Mark Epstein
Released: June 6, 2017

"A perceptive, gritty portrayal of the frenzy of war and a father and son caught at its tumultuous center."
A gripping history of a family torn apart by political upheaval. Read full book review >
THE BALLAD OF BOB DYLAN by Daniel Mark Epstein
Released: May 3, 2011

"Despite occasionally graceful writing and input from hitherto untapped expert witnesses, this is not top-shelf Dylanology."
Four concerts viewed over more than four decades frame a new study of the musician. Read full book review >
THE LINCOLNS by Daniel Mark Epstein
Released: May 20, 2008

"A dynamic picture of a marriage every bit as fractious and as buffeted as the nation the Lincolns served."
Poet, playwright and biographer Epstein (Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington, 2004, etc.) presents a history and analysis of the almost operatic marriage of Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2004

"Powerful and evocative."
Poet and biographer Epstein (What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, 2001, etc.) brings insight from both his specialties to bear on two defining figures of the Civil War era. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 10, 2001

"A powerful prose-poem whose subject is the language of love—and the poet who sang in no other tongue. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)"
A passionate paean to the writer Epstein calls "America's foremost love poet." Read full book review >
NAT KING COLE by Daniel Mark Epstein
Released: Nov. 1, 1999

An effusively admiring biography of the brilliant jazz pianist whose mellow crooning made him one of the first black performers to win mainstream success with white audiences. As in his book about controversial 1920s evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson (Sister Aimee,1993), Epstein displays a warm affection for his subject that is appropriate when detailing the breathtaking work of Nat King Cole (1919—65) as a key figure in the transition from the Golden Age of Jazz to the Swing Era, but somewhat much when dealing with his personal life. The cooperation of Cole's widow, Maria, explains Epstein's gushy portrait of their marriage and ain—t-it-sad coverage of the singer's divorce from his first wife, frequent casual infidelities on the road, hard-hearted financial dealings with his sidemen when he hit the big time, and late-life affair with a white teenage chorus girl. Nonetheless, this is a marvelously evocative rendering of American jazz in its glory days and a thoughtful assessment of Cole's transition to ballad singing, which resulted in such megahits as —Nature Boy,— —Mona Lisa,— and —Unforgettable.— Purists cried 'sellout,— yet Epstein makes a strong case for Cole's desire to reach a wider audience without abandoning his musical sophistication. Wealth and prominence brought Cole into direct conflict with racism: Residents tried to prevent him from buying a mansion in Los Angeles's affluent Hancock Park section in 1948; Las Vegas hotels that paid him thousands of dollars a night to perform wouldn—t permit him to stay in their rooms. Although he sued two hotels in the late 1940s, Cole was by nature nonconfrontational; he played before segregated audiences in the South, justifying it as the best way to challenge prejudice. The horrifying depiction of the chain-smoking singer's ghastly final days as he succumbed to lung cancer might prompt a few readers to chuck their cigarettes. Could use a bit more edge, but Cole emerges as a lovable man with forgivably human flaws—and, more to the point, a great artist in both the jazz and pop idioms. (b&w photos) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1993

Powerhouse biography of perhaps the most charismatic and controversial woman in modern religious history. Although now less than a household name, Aimee Semple McPherson dominated the American spiritual landscape of six or seven decades ago. Her Pentecostal meetings, held first in tents and then in the gigantic Angelus Temple she built in Los Angeles, attracted millions of admirers. The media lionized her. The denomination she founded, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, today boasts 17,000 churches worldwide. Epstein (Love's Compass, 1990, etc.) seems half in love with his subject, and understandably so. He emphasizes her ``angelic and foxlike'' beauty, her erotic magnetism as a preacher; he takes her side in the great controversy of her life—her mysterious month-long disappearance in 1927, which she ascribed to a foiled kidnapping and her detractors to a romantic fling with her radio operator. Most notably, Epstein is able to write about ``miracles'' like glossolalia and faith healing (at McPherson's services, the deaf heard and the blind walked, or so eyewitnesses reported) without sneering—or, for that matter, without fawning. He presents the evidence, offers nonreligious (mostly psychoanalytical) explanations, and points out their shortcomings. The author seems to have gathered every scrap of material on McPherson, including such odd items as her surreptitious friendship with atheist Charlie Chaplin and her kind words to a teenaged Anthony Quinn, who played saxophone at her Temple. Epstein never skimps on details, whether limning McPherson's triumphs or her many falls—into depression, nervous breakdowns, loneliness, bad marriages, lawsuits. But this is anything but a lifeless patchwork: The author's admiration and his subject's breathtaking story give the narrative abundant energy. Holy-roller religion at its best, told with fire. Read full book review >