'Filed under: 'New Biographies 2011'
“This Is a Call,” the first in-depth, definitive biography of Dave Grohl, tells the epic story of a singular career that includes Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and Them Crooked Vultures.
Based on ten years of original, exclusive interviews with the man himself and conversations with a legion of musical associates like Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, DC punk legend Ian MacKaye, and “Nevermind” producer Butch Vig, this is Grohl’s story. He speaks candidly and honestly about Kurt Cobain, the arguments that almost tore Nirvana apart, the feuds that threatened to derail the Foo Fighters’s global success, and the dark days that almost caused him to quit music for good.
Dave Grohl has emerged as one of the most recognizable and respected musicians in the world. He is the last true hero to emerge from the American underground. “This Is a Call” vividly recounts this incredible rock ‘n’ roll journey.
December 11, 2011
A new biography was released: Van Gogh, The life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. It’s the product of ten years of research and writing.
The authors studied all the available documents relating to Van Gogh, as well as the relevant literature and archives. They also frequently consulted with Van Gogh specialists around the world. As a leading centre of expertise, the Van Gogh Museum made a major contribution to this project. Furthermore, two of its staff members provided comments on the first draft of the manuscript.
Intriguing new perspectives
The publication of this biography represents a major contribution to our understanding of Vincent van Gogh’s life and work, with intriguing new perspectives.
The biography offers an original point of view on the life, character, and motivations of Vincent van Gogh. The authors also propose a new explanation of the cause of Van Gogh’s death, suggesting that it was manslaughter or murder, rather than suicide as previously thought.
Not a suicide, but a killing?
After analysing and interpreting all the known facts about Van Gogh’s death, Naifeh and Smith conclude that the bullet which ended Van Gogh’s life was not shot by the artist himself, but by somebody else. Until now, it was generally assumed that Van Gogh had committed suicide; in fact, his was one of the most legendary suicides in art history.
Leo Jansen, a curator at the Van Gogh Museum, comments, ‘Obviously, this is a dramatic new claim about the cause of Van Gogh’s death that will generate a great deal of discussion. There have always been unresolved issues surrounding Van Gogh’s suicide, including such fundamental issues as the place of the incident and why Van Gogh decided to commit suicide just then. What is more, the gun was never found. Naifeh and Smith re-evaluate the known facts and present the hypothesis that two boys were involved in a mysterious incident that led to the fatal shot. This is an intriguing interpretation, but plenty of questions remain unanswered; for example, Naifeh and Smith suggest that the perpetrator(s) made off with Van Gogh’s painting materials after the incident, but that would only have raised suspicions. The Van Gogh Museum therefore believes that, all things considered, it would be premature to rule out suicide as the cause of death.’
December 11, 2011
As Leo Tolstoy’s wife, Sophia Tolstoy experienced both glory and condemnation during their forty-eight-year marriage. She was admired as the muse and literary assistant to one of the world’s most celebrated novelists. But when in later years Tolstoy became a towering public figure and founded a new brand of religion, she was scorned for her disagreements with him. And it is this version of Sophia—malicious, shrill, perennially at war with Tolstoy—that has gone down in the historical record.
Drawing on newly available archival material, including Sophia’s unpublished memoir, Alexandra Popoff presents a dramatically different and accurate portrait of the woman and the marriage. This lively, well-researched biography demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, Sophia was remarkably supportive of Tolstoy and was, in fact, key to his fame.
Gifted and versatile, Sophia assisted Tolstoy during the writing of War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Having modeled his most memorable female characters on her, Tolstoy admired his wife’s boundless energy, which he called “the force of life.” Sophia’s letters, never before translated, illuminate the couple’s true relationship and provide insights into Tolstoy’s creative laboratory. Although long portrayed as an elitist and hysterical countess, Sophia was in reality a practical, independent-minded, generous, and talented woman who shared Tolstoy’s important values and his capacity for work. Mother of thirteen, she participated in Tolstoy’s causes and managed all business a airs.
Popoff describes in haunting detail the intrusion into their marriage by Tolstoy’s religious disciple Vladimir Chertkov, who controlled Tolstoy at the end of his life and led a smear campaign against Sophia, branding her evil and mad. She is still judged by Chertkov’s false accounts, which dismissed her valuable achievements and contributions.
During his later religious phase, Tolstoy renounced his property and copyright, and Sophia had to become the breadwinner. She published Tolstoy’s collected works and supported their large family. Despite the pressures of her demanding life, she realized her own talents as a writer, photographer, translator, and aspiring artist.
This vigorous, engrossing biography presents in fascinating depth and detail the many ways in which Sophia Tolstoy enriched the life and work of one of the world’s most revered authors.
December 11, 2011
This book is the very personal story of how Brad Paisley came of age as a musician and a man. Focusing on what it means to play the guitar and how he found his voice through a series of guitars, the book will also share what he has learned about life along the way. Beginning with his own very personal love letter to the guitar and what the instrument has meant in his life as a way to find his voice in the world, the book then moves into a musical, but personal, diary. Brad tells the story of his own musical passion, while writing loving salutes and sharing memorable tales about all the great players in country, blues, and rock & roll who have inspired him over the years.
As he wrote in liner notes of his instrumental guitar album, Play, his first guitar was a gift from his grandpa when Brad was only eight. Brad quickly learned that no matter how he changed and evolved, the guitar was his only real constant. When life gets intense, he says, “there are some people who drink, who seek counseling, eat, or watch TV, cry, sleep, and so on. I play.”
Included in the book will be sidebars from a wide array of musical stars who know and love Brad. In these sidebars, this host of guitar and musical gods will share their take on Brad or stories of their favorite memories about him.
November 4, 2011
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.
Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.
Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.
October 31, 2011
A powerful, emotional memoir and an extraordinary portrait of three generations of Tibetan women whose lives are forever changed when Chairman Mao’s Red Army crushes Tibetan independence, sending a young mother and her six-year-old daughter on a treacherous journey across the snowy Himalayas toward freedom.
Kunsang thought she would never leave Tibet. One of the country’s youngest Buddhist nuns, she grew up in a remote mountain village where, as a teenager, she entered the local nunnery. Though simple, Kunsang’s life gave her all she needed: a oneness with nature and a sense of the spiritual in all things. She married a monk, had two children, and lived in peace and prayer. But not for long. There was a saying in Tibet: “When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth.” The Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950 changed everything. When soldiers arrived at her mountain monastery, destroying everything in their path, Kunsang and her family fled across the Himalayas only to spend years in Indian refugee camps. She lost both her husband and her youngest child on that journey, but the future held an extraordinary turn of events that would forever change her life–the arrival in the refugee camps of a cultured young Swiss man long fascinated with Tibet. Martin Brauen will fall instantly in love with Kunsang’s young daughter, Sonam, eventually winning her heart and hand, and taking mother and daughter with him to Switzerland, where Yangzom will be born.
Many stories lie hidden until the right person arrives to tell them. In rescuing the story of her now 90-year-old inspirational grandmother and her mother, Yangzom Brauen has given us a book full of love, courage, and triumph,as well as allowing us a rare and vivid glimpse of life in rural Tibet before the arrival of the Chinese. Most importantly, though, ACROSS MANY MOUNTAINS is a testament to three strong, determined women who are linked by an unbreakable family bond.
“This book paints a vivid picture of Tibetan experience over the last eight decades, one of the most difficult periods in our history. Through the personal stories of three women from one Tibetan family, it recalls the imposition of Chinese rule in Tibet and the subsequent efforts of many Tibetans to preserve their identity and treasured values in exile.”— His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
“A moving reminder that the consequences of the Chinese invasion of Tibet continue down to this day. A lovely memoir of three generations of Tibetan women.”~ Oliver Stone
“The lives of three women embody a tragic Tibetan era — at once grim and uplifting. A necessary book.”–Colin Thubron, author of To A Mountain in Tibet, Shadow of the Silk Road, and In Siberia
“Yangzom Brauen’s Across Many Mountains held my rapt attention from beginning to end. It is the saga that finally tells in vivid human terms the real story of the Chinese destruction of Tibet, the sixty-one-year long, continuing Tibetan holocaust and diaspora. It is historically, emotionally, humanly real, and no one can read it without opening a place in their heart for these long-suffering, brave, and yet joyful individuals. I heartily recommend this wonderful book.” –Robert A. F. Thurman, Professor, Columbia University; author of The Central Philosophy of Tibet, Wisdom and Compassion and Why the Dalai Lama Matters
The journey of the refugee–Cuban, Vietnamese, Libyan, Darfurian, and in the old days of the Cold War, East German and Hungarian–has special resonance for Americans because this country has provided sanctuary for refugees as far back as its founding. The drama is that of life and death and survival in exile. This stunning memoir is vivid and compelling, a clear-eyed rendering of the experience. A must read.”–Diane Wolff, author of Tibet Unconquered: An Epic Struggle for Freedom
“Yanzom Brauen recounts a gripping true story of her family and has kept alive the dreams of her grandmother.”–Kehdroob Thondup, co-author of Dalai Lama, My Son
“A multi-generational saga stitched together from memories passed down from her grandmother, Yangzom Brauen’s Across Many Mountains has the tragic, epic quality of Kenji Mizoguchi’s cinematic masterpiece, The Life of Oharu. With unadorned prose that is both searing and laced with verisimilitude, Brauen has written a book centered on the extraordinary journey of her grandmother that is one of both human suffering and perseverance in the face of it. Across Many Mountains is nothing short of a celebration of the human spirit.”–Rex Pickett, author of Vertical and Sideways
“The story of Kunsang and Sonam and Yangzom touches my heart because it brings back memories of life in Old Tibet. It tells the world exactly what it means to be a Tibetan refugee who loves her homeland deeply but at the same time is capable of adapting to life in the Western World. The courage and integrity and endurance of Kunsang and Sonam are astounding. I thank Yangzom for telling their story. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to know about the real situation in Tibet.”–Arjia Rinpoche, Director, Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and author of Surviving the Dragon
“Yangzom Brauen’s Across Many Mountains, a triumphant tale of three generations of Tibetan women as they journey from Tibet to Switzerland, teaches us that there is much to learn from those who persevere in the face of injustice and the unknown. The courage of these women as they cross borders and learn the language of survival gives us insight into a country that remains a mystery to many, as well as enlightens the even vaster landscape of the human heart.”–Kim Sunée, New York Times bestselling author of Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home
“An absorbing, multilayered account of the evolution of an enduring culture.”–Kirkus Reviews
“If this was a movie you might accuse the writers of taking too many liberties with the truth. How could a young nun and young monk marry as Tibetan Buddhists? How could their young daughter survive the perils of a dangerous escape through the snow covered Himalayas and go on to marry a dashing Swiss academic? And then their daughter becomes the perfect blend of freedom activist and gorgeous Hollywood starlet–it defies belief. But not only is the tale that Yangzom Brauen weaves of three very different yet integrally connected generations a satisfying read, I guarantee that you will learn more about the struggle for Tibetan independence, the complexities of the Tibet-China relationship, and the principles of Tibetan Buddhism than you will glean from any Westerners’ account. If you value exceptional storytelling, I urge you to read this book. If you care about human rights, women’s issues and world peace, you must read this book.”–Christal Smith, The Huffington Post
“…a lyrical account of how cultures can mesh and enrich each other.” — Bookreporter
About Yangzom Brauen
Born in 1980 to a Swiss father and Tibetan mother,YANGZOM BRAUEN is an actress, model, and political activist. She lives in both Los Angeles and Berlin and has appeared in a number of German and American films. She is also very active in the Free Tibet movement, making regular radio broadcasts about Tibet and organizing public demonstrations against the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Visit her Web site at www.yangzombrauen.com
October 24, 2011
Harry Belafonte is not just one of the greatest entertainers of our time; he has led one of the great American lives of the last century. Now, this extraordinary icon tells us the story of that life, giving us its full breadth, letting us share in the struggles, the tragedies, and, most of all, the inspiring triumphs.
Belafonte grew up, poverty-ridden, in Harlem and Jamaica. His mother was a complex woman—caring but withdrawn, eternally angry and rarely satisfied. His father was distant and physically abusive. It was not an easy life, but it instilled in young Harry the hard-nosed toughness of the city and the resilient spirit of the Caribbean lifestyle. It also gave him the drive to make good and channel his anger into actions that were positive and life-affirming. His journey led to the U.S. Navy during World War II, where he encountered an onslaught of racism but also fell in love with the woman he eventually married. After the war he moved back to Harlem, where he drifted between odd jobs until he saw his first stage play—and found the life he wanted to lead. Theater opened up a whole new world, one that was artistic and political and made him realize that not only did he have a need to express himself, he had a lot to express.
He began as an actor—and has always thought of himself as such—but was quickly spotted in a musical, began a tentative nightclub career, and soon was on a meteoric rise to become one of the world’s most popular singers. Belafonte was never content to simply be an entertainer, however. Even at enormous personal cost, he could not shy away from activism. At first it was a question of personal dignity: breaking down racial barriers that had never been broken before, achieving an enduring popularity with both white and black audiences. Then his activism broadened to a lifelong, passionate involvement at the heart of the civil rights movement and countless other political and social causes. The sections on the rise of the civil rights movement are perhaps the most moving in the book: his close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr.; his role as a conduit between Dr. King and the Kennedys; his up-close involvement with the demonstrations and awareness of the hatred and potential violence around him; his devastation at Dr. King’s death and his continuing fight for what he believes is right.
But My Song is far more than the history of a movement. It is a very personal look at the people in that movement and the world in which Belafonte has long moved. He has befriended many beloved and important figures in both entertainment and politics—Paul Robeson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sidney Poitier, John F. Kennedy, Marlon Brando, Robert Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Tony Bennett, Bill Clinton—and writes about them with the same exceptional candor with which he reveals himself on every page. This is a book that pulls no punches, and turns both a loving and critical eye on our country’s cultural past.
As both an artist and an activist, Belafonte has touched countless lives. With My Song, he has found yet another way to entertain and inspire us. It is an electrifying memoir from a remarkable man.
October 22, 2011
The preservation of family memories is gaining popularity as a business opportunity. The recording of family memories into a handsome bound book for posterity is gaining popularity – especially at a time when digital photos often remain just that.
“S&R a Personal History Business” shows in detail how to create such a profitable business by helping individual families, communities, and even businesses preserve their heritage. Readers are shown how to open a business that helps those groups research the past, record stories and facts, and how to memorialize it all. The author takes readers through every stage of start-up and development including: assessment; start-up; education & training; business foundations; a step-by-step guide to producing your first project; marketing; sales; expansion, and more!
Jennifer Campbell is a professional writer, editor, personal historian and owner/operator of Heritage Memoirs, a successful personal history business.
October 10, 2011
James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.
But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what happened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in turmoil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his condition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.
Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside The Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history.
September 5, 2011
“Oh, screw it, let’s do it.”
That’s the philosophy that has allowed Richard Branson, in slightly more than twenty-five years, to spawn so many successful ventures. From the airline business (Virgin Atlantic Airways), to music (Virgin Records and V2), to cola (Virgin Cola), to retail (Virgin Megastores), and nearly a hundred others, ranging from financial services to bridal wear, Branson has a track record second to none.
Losing My Virginity is the unusual, frequently outrageous autobiography of one of the great business geniuses of our time. When Richard Branson started his first business, he and his friends decided that “since we’re complete virgins at business, let’s call it just that: Virgin.” Since then, Branson has written his own “rules” for success, creating a group of companies with a global presence, but no central headquarters, no management hierarchy, and minimal bureaucracy.
Many of Richard Branson’s companies–airlines, retailing, and cola are good examples–were started in the face of entrenched competition. The experts said, “Don’t do it.” But Branson found golden opportunities in markets in which customers have been ripped off or underserved, where confusion reigns, and the competition is complacent.
And in this stressed-out, overworked age, Richard Branson gives us a new model: a dynamic, hardworking, successful entrepreneur who lives life to the fullest. Family, friends, fun, and adventure are equally important as business in Branson’s life. Losing My Virginity is a portrait of a productive, sane, balanced life, filled with rich and colorful stories:
- Crash-landing his hot-air balloon in the Algerian desert, yet remaining determined to have another go at being the first to circle the globe
- Signing the Sex Pistols, Janet Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Boy George, and Phil Collins
- Fighting back when British Airways took on Virgin Atlantic and successfully suing this pillar of the British business establishment
- Swimming two miles to safety during a violent storm off the coast of Mexico
- Selling Virgin Records to save Virgin Atlantic
- Staging a rescue flight into Baghdad before the start of the Gulf War . . .
And much more. Losing My Virginity is the ultimate tale of personal and business survival from a man who combines the business prowess of Bill Gates and the promotional instincts of P. T. Barnum.
September 1, 2011
Elizabeth Taylor’s own story was more dramatic than any part she ever played on the screen. C. David Heymann brings her magnificently to life in this acclaimed biography–updated with a new chapter covering her final years.
She was an icon, one of the most watched, photographed, and gossiped-about personalities of our time. Child star, daughter of a controlling stage mother, Oscar-winning actress, seductress and eight-time wife, mother of four children and grandmother of ten, champion of funding for AIDS research, purveyor of perfumes and jewelry, close friend of celebrities and tycoons—Elizabeth Taylor, for almost eight decades, played most completely, beautifully, cunningly, flamboyantly, and scandalously her greatest role of all: herself.
The basis of an Emmy Award-nominated miniseries, Liz portrays Taylor’s life and career in fascinating, revealing detail and includes an additional new chapter, bringing her beloved fans up to date on her final years. By way of more than a thousand interviews with stars, directors, producers, designers, friends, family, business associates, and employees and through extensive research among previously disclosed court, business, medical, and studio documents, bestselling author Heymann reminds readers of her very public escapades and unveils her most private moments.
Here are the highs and lows of her film career and the intimate circumstances of her marriages to Nicky Hilton, Michael Wilding, Mike Todd, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton, Senator John Warner, and Larry Fortensky. Here, too, is the truth about Taylor’s father and her friendships with leading men Montgomery Clift, James Dean, and Rock Hudson, as well as with the eccentric Malcolm Forbes and Michael Jackson. From her illnesses, injuries, weight issues, and battles against drug and alcohol, to her sexual exploits, diamond-studded adventures, and tumultuous love affairs, this is the enormously contradictory and glamorous life of Hollywood’s last great star.
“Clear-eyed, often startling. . . . A wealth of intimate detail found in no other biography.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Like Marilyn, JFK, and Lincoln, Elizabeth Taylor seems destined for literary eternity.”
– Liz Smith, New York Post
July 6, 2011