Posts tagged with "Biography"

Posted by Kelley M on 10/01/14
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During my formative years, my parents used reverse psychology on me, allowing me to stay up to watch Johnny Carson if I agreed not to complain about getting up for school in the morning.  I was so excited to read a book about this legendary entertainment powerhouse.  Johnny Carson’s long time lawyer & confidant, Henry Bushkin, is the author of this book.  Mr. Bushkin was sworn to secrecy regarding his interactions as Johnny’s attorney, until Johnny’s death in 2005.  Johnny Carson preferred to keep a low profile in his private life so it was great to gain some perspective on the man behind The Tonight Show.
 
While this book is a work of non-fiction, the pace was fast enough to keep my interest.  Especially interesting were the accounts of Johnny’s relationship with his mother & father, his marriages, details about show guests, Johnny’s travels and how he became the country’s highest-paid entertainer during the ‘70s & ‘80s.  It’s important to keep in mind that this is a biography by a longtime friend who, eventually, had a falling out with Johnny.  How the book has been received has been a bit controversial.  Folks like Doc Severinsen have blasted the tell-all book.  However, it’s worth a read if you would like to learn some juicy details about the “King of Late Night TV”. 
 

Posted by mingh on 01/17/12
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This is a very detailed look at a fascinating woman who changed Russian history. Catherine (born Sophia) was a lesser known and unrich princess of a German duchy when she was called up as a potential suitor for Peter III. Catherine did not love Peter who, although older, remained childish. However, she was able to gain his confidence and the wedding was scheduled. Before it could take place, Peter caught smallpox. He lived, but when Catherine saw how disfigured he was she could not contain her disgust. Peter never forgave her.
 
Massie uses Catherine's diaires which go very extensively into her personal life in the court of Empress Elizabeth. In these diaries, Catherine notes that she and Peter III never consummated their marriage for nine years and it was likely that Peter fathered none of her children. Because of Peter's state of mind, most of the attendants could easily come to the same conclusion. It is Catherine's autobiography and diaries which gives us all of the information that we have today. Catherine noted in her autobiography that in her life she had had 12 lovers. This is where rumors of her sexuality came from.
 
Once Catherine takes the throne from her husband she embarks on many visits throughout Russia and starts to institute changes including those to alleviate some of the harshness of the life of the serfs. She was well-educated and built The Hermitage to showcase the art that was in the collection of the Romanovs. She continued to have favorites in court and their intrigues and lives are greatly detailed.
 
This biography is for serious readers of history. There is wonderful detail in the lives of Catherine and her family and everyone in the court. I can't remember reading as extensive a biography of a ruler ever. Catherine the Great, indeed.

Posted by Kelley M on 01/07/15
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A book about the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in history…  You know this is going to be interesting. 
 
The author, Malala Yousafzai, was shot by the Taliban due to her belief that women should be educated.  It is easy to forget, living in the United States, that the education of females, unfortunately, is not a right extended to all women in the world.  This book is about overcoming that obstacle and speaking up about it, despite the potentially fatal response.  Yousafzai has been an advocate for girls’ educational rights since the age of 11.  I found it so interesting to hear a Muslim family’s perspective on the Taliban takeover of the Swat Valley in Pashtun.  What a perspective-altering book.  I really think the Washington Post summed up this book best when it said, “Ask social scientists how to end global poverty, and they will tell you: Educate girls… and watch a community change.”  If you find it difficult to get through the memoir in paper-form, give the audiobook a try.  Definitely worth the read.
 

Posted by mingh on 02/04/12
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If you are watching Downton Abby, you might want to check out this book. Highclere Castle is where the British TV Show is filmed, But the writer, Julian Fellowes, also seems to have taken some of the life of the 5th Countess of Carnarvon as his inspiration for what happens on the show.
 
The 5th Countess of Carnarvon, Almina Wombwell, was the illegitimate daughter of the third son of the Rothschild family, bankers to Europe. The Carnarvon family was badly in need of an influx of cash when the Earl married her. This was the era when nobles would marry an American heiress or other woman with money. The most famous American was Consuelo Vanderbilt who went into a terrible marriage with the Duke of Marlborough. It was she who coined the term, "an heir and a spare," to explain what her role was in the marriage.
 
Alfred de Rothschild had many friends in high places. He threw lavish parties attended by all including the Prince of Wales. It was at these parties that he would present his daughter. Although not a traditional love match, the couple were very fond of each other. Lady Almina would follow the Earl to all corners of the earth to be near him. He was an adventurer and very interested in digging up antiquities. It was one of the excavations that he funded (with her money) that discovered King Tutankhamen's tomb.
 
When the First World War began it was Lady Almina who offered Highclere Castle as a hospital. She was very involved in nursing and believed in the best care. When she found that she could offer better care in London, as more doctors and surgeons would be available, she moved her "hospital" to London. Her care led to many more men surviving their wounds than would have happened without her.
 
You don't have to have watched Downton Abbey to enjoy this biography of a remarkable woman. This is the story of a woman who adapted easily to her time. Lady Almina worked hard and took advantage of her money to help others during the war and to assist her husband in his explorations. Written by the 8th Countess of Carnarvon, you will enjoy the parallels between real life and reel life.

Posted by bpardue on 12/19/13
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Has anyone changed a sport the way Bobby Orr changed hockey?
 
With his end-to-end skating and puck handling, he redefined what a defenseman could be. I first learned of Orr when he was featured in a 1970 Boy's Life magazine cover story. I was immediately a fan, despite living at the Jersey shore (on the border between Rangers/Flyers territory) and not even being much of a hockey follower. I'd patiently wait for the Bruins to be shown on TV and listen at night on my transistor radio to WBZ to hear their games. I was ecstatic when they won the '72 Stanley Cup and crestfallen when they were beaten by the upstart Flyers in '74. Sure, I liked the team, but it was really all about Orr for me. He was the complete athletic package--skill and integrity rolled into one, just the kind of guy who should be on the cover of Boy's Life.
 
43 years later, Orr has finally (and after some reluctance) put out his autobiography, and it's just what an Orr fan wants--an overview of his life in Parry Sound, ON, some stories about his time in junior hockey and signing into the Bruins' minor league organization (he got $1,000 and his parents got their house stuccoed), all leading up to his stunning--but all-too-short--career with the Bruins and (in case you forgot), the Blackhawks. Orr mostly keeps things positive--he cites his role models and influences, and has high praise for his teammates. This isn't a tell-all book, although he does have a chapter set aside to cover his thoughts about his ill-fated relationship with his now-disgraced former agent, Alan Eagleson. Even there, he shoulders the blame, saying he didn't take enough responsibility for his own finances. Orr also has sage words for aspiring young hockey players and reflections on the current state of the game, including some suggested rule tweaks.
 
Orr's writing is solid, and straightforward--his favorite phrase seems to be "and let me tell you..."--so the book is a quick read. If you're an Orr fan or a hockey fan in general, this is time well-spent.  If you don't know about Orr, then maybe this will help you appreciate him a bit:
 
 

Posted by mingh on 04/27/11
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Sisters of Fortune : America's Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad by Jehanne Wake is a study in how women could flourish in non-traditional 19th century America and England. The Grandfather of the Caton Sisters, Charles Carroll, was one of the richest men in America and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. When his Mother's inheritance is lost by his Father, he decides to settle his wife and daughters with trusts that cannot be touched by their future husbands. Rarely done at the time, he also ingrained in the daughters how to take care of their own estates and expenses. This allowed each of them to retain their money as they married.
 
The daughters were also amazingly allowed to marry for love. Although the family was much interested in their marriages, even when they did not approve of the husbands, they allowed their daughters their happiness. In addition to their own income, this gave the Caton sisters extra-ordinary freedom for their times.
 
The oldest daughter, Marianne, married locally into what became a sad marriage. When her first husband died she marries the older brother of the Duke of Wellington (her alleged true love). Even the Duke of Wellington thought his older brother a ne'er do well. But Marianne became a Lady In Waiting to Queen Adelaide and later Queen Victoria. She was much admired in royal circles.
 
Elizabeth, known as Bess, marries very late in life but becomes quite the speculator investing in the new railroads and South American mines. She becomes one of a number of well-to-do women who invest in businesses.
 
Louisa, first marries the Aide de Camp to Wellington. When he dies, she marries the Duke of Leeds. Louisa had the most trouble being accepted into royal circles. She finally is invited to the family castle after 15 years into the marriage.
 
Emily stays in America to marry one of the owners of what will become the Hudson Bay Company, known for fur trading. She is also the only one of the sisters to have children and the only one to remain in America.
 
Author Wake uses extensive letters to develop the lives of the sisters and their closeness to their Grandfather. The sisters were very much involved in the politics of the time whether in America or in England. While the sisters are remarkable, you also understand and appreciate what their Grandfather did for them. They know him to be their hero and readers will appreciate the freedoms he allowed them to have.

Posted by lsears on 07/12/15
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How far would you go to help a stranger? On his way to work one day author Steve Lopez stops to listen to a disheveled, homeless man playing a battered violin on a busy, noisy city street corner. After introducing himself as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times to Nathaniel Ayers, he recognizes that this man is also suffering from mental illness. Despite this, there is a rumpled elegance to the man and a refinement to his playing. Lopez discovers Ayers was once a student at Julliard School of Performing Arts.
 
Lopez struggles with how much he can or should do. Over time Lopez writes several articles about Ayers.  The publicity brings an outpouring of support from readers, donations of instruments, offers of music lessons and some accusations of exploitation.
 
This is a memorable story that began with a chance encounter and develops into a friendship between two very different men. It shines a spotlight on mental illness, on vulnerable members of society, our responsibility to them and is a tribute to the human spirit.
 
This title is our Book Club on the Green selection. Please join us on Thursday, August 6, 7:30pm at Arlington Lakes Golf Club to discuss this book in depth.
 

Posted by kmyers on 12/19/17
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Paula Wolfert is “the most influential cookbook author you’ve probably never heard of,” according to Emily Kaiser Thelin, the author of the biography and cookbook, Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life. She never had a TV show or a restaurant, but over four decades published eight ground-breaking cookbooks, with multiple reissues and numerous articles. Her work helped popularize foods we now take for granted, including couscous and cassoulet, and her influence has long been felt in the elite circles of well-known chefs, and their books and restaurants.
 
Known for her acute memory, Wolfert was diagnosed with dementia in 2013, but she suspected something was wrong long before. Family and friends dismissed her symptoms early on, citing her aging and “senior moments.” Since her diagnosis, she is determined to do as much as she can for the prevention, treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s disease, advocating for early intervention.
 

I enjoyed this book that provides a detailed biography about someone whose influence is felt, but whose name we may not know; for the well-tested recipes that celebrate her life and ideas; and for the direct way she is addressing her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, sharing her diagnosis and advocacy openly.

 

 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
 
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