Music Biographies

February 22, 2015

By coincidence got three music biographies from library recently

Prince Biography

Prince Biography

What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong Biog

What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong Biog

and

Morrissey&Marr_The Severed Alliance

Morrissey&Marr_The Severed Alliance

Read the Prince one over the weekend and it was much better than I thought, especially on the last 10/15 years. Now onto the Louis Armstrong one. Riccardi’s thesis is that Armstrong was unfairly popped at by critics in his later years and that critics either hadn’t followed his career or were wilfully using their ennui to have a go. The Morrissey/Marrs one I saw when I was returning the Prince one. Never a Smiths fan but it looked good so figured why not.

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MLK & The Six Wives of Henry VIII

January 27, 2013

Just finished Godfrey Hodgson’s biography of Martin Luther King Jnr. Good book, in an earlier post I spoke about how the intro alone made me want to go to Atlanta and the rest of the book was good and seemed like a fair assessment of the man’s life. Only slight criticism was around the March on Washington. As most of these books are it was pretty chronological yet it pretty much skipped the buildup to and the actual event of the March. It was reflected on a little earlier on in the book but with such a chronological structure it’s omission felt odd and it felt like the book skipped from early 1963 to 1964. Reading it I felt the Writer felt there was too much other work out there about it, I felt he was intimidated out of writing about it. Seemed like a strange decision, the Letter from Birmingham Jail has had loads written about it but was examined in detail here. I guess it hasn’t the same kind of worldwide iconography.
Now reading The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser. I don’t remember much other than Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived but after reading Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel I’ve gotten interested in the wives. Fraser clearly as a serious reputation as a killer writer of biographies so looking forward to getting into it.


The Intemperate Engineer

November 13, 2011

Finished this book on IK Brunel today.

Brunel Book Cover

He doesn’t come across very well. I was quite surprised because all previous knowledge on him was that the Genius was to the fore. This book does both so the man and the engineer. His stubbornness, mistakes and the unsavoury elements of his character are as perhaps even more prominent than the genius. The book is much more concerned with the trains than the brides and other schemes Brunel was involved in and as such isn’t a particularly well-balanced book as a biography, but the important element, that of the man does come across.


The Bridge

April 22, 2011

Finished The Bridge by David Remnick. The biography of 44th US President Barack Obama is well written. Remnick has very good access and tells a compelling story of Obama as the bridge between the civil rights era black leader and the professional politician. ‘Risen without trace’ is an expression that comes to mind as Obama has no ‘obvious’ achievements to draw on his undoubted skill as a politician. One gets the sense that he was saving his achievements for when he could really make a difference and that the ascent was in the hands of someone who always had enough experience to take advantage of the good fortune in and around him.
A true figure of his age.

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Lew Wasserman Biog

December 11, 2010

Finished Wasserman bio When Hollywood Had a King. Good book. Particularly liked the early days of mca stuff about Jules Stein. The ending felt a bit rushed. I’d expected more about the Wasserman’s philanthropy but it kind of went ‘semi-retirement and then dead’. Good book as I’d been intrigued to read more about Wasserman who is mentioned in lots of books about Hollywood from the 50’s to 80’s.
I’m now re-reading Kevin Brownlow’s excellent book about David Lean.

DavidLeanBrownlowBookImage

DavidLeanBrownlowBookImage

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Lew Wasserman Biog

November 12, 2010

Lew Wasserman Biog just arrived.

 

WassermanBiogCover

WassermanBiographyCover Image

As I’ve said on many an occasion I love reading these old Hollywood biographies. The biog is written by Connie Bruck. Amazon 6 quid, from usa. job done.


Old Hollywood

September 25, 2010

Reading a book about old Hollywood mogul DF Zanuck. I’ve read lots of Hollywood biogs over the years, especially old Hollywood. Mayer, Thalberg, Minnelli, Goldwyn, An Empire of Their Own by Neil Garbler is probably my favourite and seems to be generally well-viewed as it quoted favourably in a number of the others. Originally it started as research for a project I was writing. I outlined the project (this must be about 8 years ago or so) but haven’t gone any further. It was also about celebrity so I’ve read more current biogs, Eastwood, Cruise, Spielberg, Scorcese but I always prefer the ones about Von Stroheim, Lang, Hitchcock, Peck, Grant. No doubt I will have read many of the anecdotes before but looking forward to getting into it.

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