Biography & Memoir Book Reviews (page 956)

ALLAN PINKERTON by James Mackay
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 19, 1997

"More hagiography than biography, this rather lifeless narrative hardly represents a balanced portrayal of a controversial figure."
Mackay, a Scottish historian whose previous works include a biography of fellow Scot Robert Burns (1993), turns his attention to another Glaswegian, Allan Pinkerton. Read full book review >
THE QUEEN by Ben Pimlott
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 19, 1997

"But no one has analyzed these problems with greater acuteness or more sense. (69 b&w photos, not seen)"
An intelligent, understanding, critical, if ultimately admiring study of Elizabeth II and her age, by a Whitbread Prizewinning British historian (Hugh Dalton, not reviewed). Read full book review >

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 18, 1997

"Though this is unsatisfying as a skim-milk latte in places, Schultz is less a braggart and more a true believer than many CEOs, and (with Business Week staffer Yang) he provides a pleasing read. ($300,000 ad/promo; author tour)"
A chatty history of Starbucks by its CEO, who announces that he considers the company to be only in its third chapter (which is nowhere near the eleventh). Read full book review >
ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN' by Rick Bragg
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 17, 1997

"His memoir is a model of humility combined with pride in one's accomplishments."
A celebrated Pulitzer Prizewinning New York Times reporter turns his investigative attention to his own past: growing up poor and making his way from rural Alabama to the top of his profession. Read full book review >
DRAWING LIFE by David Gelernter
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 17, 1997

"Full of solipsism, smugness, and petty arrogance—an exercise in self-regard. (First serial to Time)"
Yale computer scientist Gelernter (1939: The Lost World of the Fair, 1995, etc.) offers a peculiar rant only tangentially about his ordeal as a Unabomber target and the resulting irreparable damage to his right hand and eye. Read full book review >

LAUGHING ON THE OUTSIDE by Martin Knelman
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 17, 1997

"Like a drugstore gumball, this standard-issue biography of the late, semi-great comic actor John Candy is too sweet, too small, and offers almost nothing to chew on. (12 pages b&w photos, not seen)"
There's something, perhaps a suffusing vulnerability, about large, funny men that gives these actors a real everyman quality. Read full book review >
GRETA GARBO by Karen Swenson
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 16, 1997

"Well-intentioned, but regrettably garbled. (photos, not seen)"
Yet another biography of perhaps the most iconic of film actresses—this one an awkward accumulation of largely irrelevant detail that leaves Garbo a cipher. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 15, 1997

"For diehards only."
In a rather extreme act of completist devotion, two Beatlemaniacs describe in bleak detail the woeful January 1969 recording sessions that were more selectively documented in the film Let It Be. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 15, 1997

"Without this to complete the picture, the accounts of his repeated failings lack either context or interest. (24 b&w photos, not seen)"
A diffuse and hype-riddled profile of world soccer's ``bad boy.'' Burns, a correspondent for Britain's Financial Times, pieces together the career of Diego Maradona, which saw remarkable heights and depths—often in quick succession. Read full book review >
JOURNALS OF AYN RAND by David Harriman
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 15, 1997

"This volume reveals not only how strong conclusions can flow from trumping fact with fiction, but also why Rand seemed to be living on another planet."
Both those inspired and those irritated by Rand's radical individualism will find support for their response in her journals. Read full book review >
TRACKING THE SERPENT by Janine Pommy Vega
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 15, 1997

"While Vega's is a likable voice, her narrative never rises above the self-indulgent, unfocused standard that seems to have become the norm for the recent outpouring of travel adventures."
In this loosely unified collection, poet Vega visits not four but three continents and produces a rambling but brave-hearted account of her exploits. Read full book review >
THE ROMANTICS by E.P. Thompson
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 15, 1997

The many longtime admirers of Thompson (Making History, 1994, etc.)—and any serious lovers of the past at its most vividly and subtly resuscitated—should slowly savor this last posthumous publication of his work. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Emma Straub
author of MODERN LOVERS
May 30, 2016

In Emma Straub’s new novel Modern Lovers, friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring. Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed. “Straub’s characters are a quirky and interesting bunch, well aware of their own good fortune, and it’s a pleasure spending time with them in leafy Ditmas Park,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >