Biography & Memoir Book Reviews (page 9)

ALIVE, ALIVE OH! by Diana Athill
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 4, 2016

"Readers can hope that more crisp and thoughtful essays on life, old age, and death will be forthcoming from a centenarian Athill."
Approaching her 98th birthday, the astonishingly vital and fiercely intelligent Athill adds a charming addendum to her previous memoir on aging, Somewhere Towards the End (2009).Read full book review >
WHEN HITLER TOOK COCAINE AND LENIN LOST HIS BRAIN by Giles Milton
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 1, 2016

"A few chapters will elicit a response of 'so what?' But there's enough adventure, gore, and mystery to make this volume mostly entertaining."
Hitler's love child and other shocking speculations. Read full book review >

THE INVISIBLES by Jesse J. Holland
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 1, 2016

"A quick, informative history of a lamentable chapter in America's past."
Ten of the first 12 United States presidents were slave masters. Read full book review >
MAGGIE SMITH by Michael Coveney
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 29, 2015

"An authoritative and perceptive portrait."
The illustrious career of "a great stage actress in both comedy and tragedy, and an international film star." Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 29, 2015

"Well-intentioned but flawed."
An environmental activist's travelogue about the 104-day coast-to-coast bike ride that he transformed into a radical experiment in low-impact living. Read full book review >

Growing Up Twice by Aaron Kirk Douglas
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 28, 2015

"A moving memoir about struggling to form personal relationships in turbulent environments."
A 40-something Oregon man writes about his yearslong experience with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in this debut. Read full book review >
WHY BERNIE SANDERS MATTERS by Harry Jaffe
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 22, 2015

"Clarifies some of the candidate's fuzzy past but is hardly disinterested."
'Tis the season for tendentious biographies of presidential candidates; this one's favorable. Read full book review >
EISENHOWER'S ARMIES by Niall Barr
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 15, 2015

"A detailed, entertaining history of a successful, if bumpy, military alliance."
Anglo-American cooperation during World War II worked, more or less. Read full book review >
RICHARD III by David Horspool
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 15, 2015

"Among the better histories on this subject, this book rocks no boats while delivering a densely detailed account of a man who was no more villainous than the average 15th-century baron."
Richard III's villainy owes much to Shakespeare. Modern histories are more understanding, and this includes this thoughtful biography by Times Literary Supplement history editor Horspool (Alfred the Great, 2014, etc.), who stresses that Richard (1452-1485) was a man of his times, although they were nasty times.Read full book review >
THE CITY AT THREE P.M. by Peter LaSalle
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 15, 2015

"An up-and-down collection of essays on what a fiction writer does when he isn't writing fiction."
A collection of what could be called literary travel criticism. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 15, 2015

"First-rate reporting and erudition underlie this successful effort to re-establish the reputation of an indispensable scientist."
A United States Geological Survey scientist returns with a rich account of one of his predecessors: Thomas Jaggar (1871-1953), a somewhat forgotten pioneer in volcanology. Read full book review >
THIS DIVIDED ISLAND by Samanth Subramanian
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 15, 2015

"A highly readable and powerful account of an oft-ignored struggle and the lives it came to shatter."
In the wake of a 30-year guerrilla war, New Delhi-based journalist Subramanian (Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast, 2012, etc.) explores the root causes and human cost of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >