• LIVES

My Life

In her prime, Isadora Duncan was the greatest and most avant-garde dancer alive, an openly bisexual Communist, and typically sporting a Grecian tunic.  Her newly reissued 1927 memoir tells the rest of her thrilling story.

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  • LIVES

She Left Me the Gun

Emma Brockes' mother Paula escaped from South Africa with a smuggled pistol and a dark secret.  A daughter unravels her family's covert past -- and a suspenseful legal drama -- in this hard-boiled memoir of survival.

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Daily Rituals

Jane Austen wrote her novels while entertaining guests.  Stravinsky stood on his head.  Ben Franklin walked his courtyard nude. Mason Currey profiles these and many more inspiring work habits of geniuses.

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Black Venus

James MacManus diligently recreates French poet Charles Baudelaire’s fiery romance with his “Black Venus” - the Haitian singer who fueled his most notorious work, Les Fleurs du Mal.

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Pain, Parties, Work

Sylvia Plath interns at Mademoiselle for a month, undergoing the woes and adventures which inspired The Bell Jar, in Elizabeth Winder's stirring biography of the singular writer at age 20. 

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The Astor Orphan

Alexandra Aldrich grew up in a crumbling 43-room Hudson River palace built by her legendary ancestors, the Astors.  Out of a grim family feud, the author salvages self-reliant wit and her own kind of prominence in this wry memoir.

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With or Without You

Domenica Ruta mines dark humor to handle a hard-knock childhood-- and her mother's addiction -- in an incendiary memoir of struggle, redemption, and reckless youth.  A 2013 Discover Great New Writers selection.

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The Queen's Agent

Knowledge is power, and Sir Francis Walsingham, England's first great spymaster, understood that perfectly. At a time when England, a Protestant country, was surrounded by Catholics plotting to invade, and rival powers within, he did what it took to save Elizabeth I -- and her embattled country. Historian John Cooper's account of his efforts, and his life (c. 1532 to 1590), proves as thrilling as any spy novel.

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The Brontës

A stirring group biography of all three Brontë sisters: who among us can resist a subtitle like "Wild Genius on the Moors"?  Demolishing the hearsay that has plagued past Brontë bios, Juliet Barker delivers a definitive account of this remarkable family and the literary world they imagined into being.

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  • LIVES

Hello Goodbye Hello

Author Craig Brown traces a loop of chance encounters among celebrities, politicians, artists, and authors. Whether marveling at Mark Twain’s gracious reception of a 23-year-old Rudyard Kipling or casting an incredulous eye on the praise H. G. Wells heaps on Stalin, you'll be astonished by the extent to which everyone is connected. One of our picks for Best Nonfiction of 2012.

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The Right Way to Do Wrong

Did you ever know that famed stage magician Harry Houdini once collaborated on a story with H. P. Lovecraft? It's true! The wiry, wily entertainer also possessed a talent for words, never more visible than in his book-length study of rogues, eccentrics, and fellow prestidigitators reprinted here. "The truth seems to be that when a lovely woman stoops to crime, she usually goes to the greatest lengths of iniquity...." If you can resist sentences and themes of this nature, then even an introduction by silent stage wizard Teller might not be enough to lure you in.

 

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  • LIVES

A Free Man

Aman Seth's intimate, empathetic reportage illuminates the otherwise hidden life of one neighborhood in Old Delhi, captured through the daily doings of a single man facing seemingly overwhelming challenges.  The world of Mohammed Ashraf is rendered with a novelist's care for detail.  A stunning work in the tradition of Beyond the Beautiful Forevers.  

 

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  • lives

The Entertainer

Fans of B-movies always jump with delight whenever Lyle Talbot appears onscreen. No Bogart or Gable, Talbot nonetheless had a certain low-key charisma and talent that made watching him easy and employing him a sure bet. Now his daughter, Margaret Talbot, reveals that the offscreen man was just as likable as the fellow seen in over 300 filmed appearances. Moreover, Talbot's long life paralleled the entire history of twentieth-century entertainment, and this biography illuminates a whole industry and culture.

 

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  • LIVES

The Last Lion

Co-author and designated literary heir Paul Reid picks up the banner dropped by William Manchester at his death in 2004 and brings to an elegant and stirring conclusion the massive three-volume biography of Winston Churchill begun some thirty years prior. Encompassing both the pinnacle and nadir of Churchill's power, this book is a fitting capstone to two unprecedented lives -- those of subject and biographer.

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The Richest Woman in America

Having already profiled Gertrude Bell, biographer Janet Wallach turns her attention to another exceptional woman of yesteryear, but one who was almost the polar opposite of the public-minded Bell. From humble origins, Hetty Green amassed a fortune, all on her own uncompromising terms. Yet she had a tender side, which Wallach balances with her fiscal savvy.

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  • lives

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher

Photographer Edward Curtis sought to document the original inhabitants of North America before their old ways were destroyed. Along the way he became a passionate advocate for Native American rights. Timothy Egan weaves the tragic history of a transforming world into the story of a tireless dreamer.

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  • LIVES

The Man Who Saved the Union

Ulysses S. Grant saved the Union twice, first on the field of battle during the Civil War, and then in the aftermath of the largely disastrous presidency of Andrew Johnson. Bestselling historian H. W. Brands offers a warts and all portrait of the 18th President in a work meant to restore a hero's maligned reputation.

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  • LIVES

Bill and Hillary

William H. Chafe traces a partnership in love and politics, from courtship at Yale Law through the crucible of the White House years and on to Hillary Clinton's own historic run for the presidency. A portrait of a uniquely American marriage, threatened by dysfunction but anchored in mutual respect.

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  • LIVES

Ike's Bluff

Evan Thomas's incisive and deeply readable biography yields a fresh perspective on Dwight D. Eisenhower, a shrewd tactician who excelled at diplomacy during some of the Cold War's most heated exchanges.

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  • lives

Seward

The men who killed Lincoln also made a bloody attempt on the life of his Secretary of State, William H. Seward. Walter Stahr's new book reveals how this savvy politician -- one of the key figures who held the Union together during the Civil War -- survived to carry on the great president's work.

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  • LIVES

Nijinsky

Back in print for the first time in 40 years, Richard Buckle's soaring biography of dancer, innovator, and artistic rebel Vaslav Nijinsky spotlights the genius of Russian ballet in both his revolutionary performances and stormy offstage life.

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  • LIVES

That Woman

How deep does Anne Sebba dig in her provocative biography of Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne? Deep enough to uncover evidence that Simpson may not actually have wanted to marry Edward and to explore the possibility that a complex sexuality lay beneath her allure. This eye-opening book is already a bestseller in the U.K.

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  • LIVES

The Big Fight

Once upon a time, boxing champs stood for a certain standard of tough-knuckled, streetwise nobility. With his admitted past addictions to cocaine and alcohol, Sugar Ray Leonard may not truly qualify as the last outlier of that vintage era. But this authentic and honest autobiography proves that Leonard, who rose from ghetto kid to Olympian and battled depression, still embodies a host of admirable virtues, such as vision, tenacity and grit.

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  • LIVES

Nothing Daunted

Dorothy Wickenden, descendant of one of the two pioneering women at the heart of this remarkable tale, recreates a lost moment from a century ago, when two Eastern-seaboard society women ventured into the Wild West to teach school, astonish the natives, and become integral citizens of the Colorodo frontier. Dramatizing the constraints that female free spirits faced not so long ago, Wickenden creates a fable for dreamers of all eras and genders.

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  • LIVES

The Alice Behind Wonderland

Immortal Alice Liddell, juvenile muse to Lewis Carroll, has starred in a novel by Geoff Ryman, an Ian Holm film, and a pornographic comic by Alan Moore, among many other posthumous excursions. Now, bestselling historian Simon Winchester, riffing on the famed portrait of Alice as a beggar child, seeks to plumb the actuality of her life and the mysterious relationship with a bookish Oxford don that inspired a seemingly infinite Wonderland.

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The Philosophical Breakfast Club

If, like me, you loved Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men or Richard Holmes's The Age of Wonder, prepare yourself for the pleasure of further intellectual pursuit in this lively group biography of four men—Charles Babbage, John Herschel, William Whewell, and Richard Jones—who met at Cambridge University and spurred each other on to pioneering achievements in crystallography, mathematics, computing, astronomy, and economics.

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  • LIVES

Fruitlands

To live in the experimental Alcott household known as Fruitlands must have been fraught with dizzying chaos and unease, but to read about Bronson Alcott's madcap 19th-century utopian schemes is pure pleasure. Richard Francis transports us  to a time when America was only half-fashioned, and any wild-eyed dream seemed capable of enactment.

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  • LIVES

Blood-Dark Track

Now resissued in paperback, this fascinating family history by Joseph O'Neill, the author of the acclaimed novel, Netherworld, details his investigations into the World War II imprisonments of his grandfathers, one an Irishman active in the IRA, the other a Turkish hotelier suspected of being an Axis spy.

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  • LIVES

Elsie & Mairi Go to War

The true story of two motorcycle-riding women who made their way to the Belgian front lines to drive ambulances amid the horrific carnage of World War I.

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April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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