A thoughtful entry to the Lerner Biographies series, on the often controversial American playwright and memoirist. The strength of Turk's work is in her wonderfully effective use of Hellman's memoirs -- readers hear the distinct, vivid voice of Hellman as a child, adolescent, and finally an adult. Turk covers all the usual highs and lows of this sometimes troubled woman, with her searching talent and strong political convictions. She does not gloss over Hellman's long-term relationship with the hard-drinking suspense novelist and screen writer Dashiell Hammett or of their commitment to liberal and leftwing causes. Also thoroughly covered is the inevitable showdown with the House Un-American Activities Committee. This is a well-paced, involving work, further enlivened by the ample use of high quality b&w photographs and interesting captions. A welcome addition to an authoritative and lively collection of biographies.