Biography

Man of the Century: The Life and Times of Pope John Paul II

By Jonathan Kwitny

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This award-winning book by a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal traces John Paul II's life from days in pre-war Poland when Karol Wojtyla, as he was known then, had to choose between the theater and priesthood, his support of the Polish Solidarity movement, his election to the church's highest office and his work afterwards.

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Saving Milly: Love, Politics and Parkinson's Disease

By Morton Kondracke

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Morton Kondracke never intended to wed Millicent Martinez, but the fiery daughter of a radical labor organizer eventually captured his heart. They married, raised two daughters, and loved and fought passionately for twenty years. Then, in 1987, Milly noticed a glitch in her handwriting, a small tremor that would lead to the shattering diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Saving Milly is Kondracke’s powerfully moving chronicle of his vital and volatile marriage, one that has endured and deepened in the face of tragedy; it also follows his own transformation from careerist to caregiver and activist, a man who will “fight all the way, without pause or rest," to save his beloved Milly.

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Portraits of Guilt: The Woman Who Profiles the Faces of America's Deadliest Criminals

By Jeanne Boylan

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Unlike many police artists, Ms. Boylan tries to "get inside" the personalities behind the suspects she tries to help catch. She describes the work she did in the cases of the Unabomber, Susan Smith, and Polly Klass, among others. The book holds some very interesting insights into her work and the people she is drawing.

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The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre

By Stephen D. Youngkin

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"Often typecast as a menacing figure, Peter Lorre achieved Hollywood fame first as a featured player and later as a character actor, trademarking his screen performances with a delicately strung balance between good and evil. His portrayal of the child murderer in Fritz Lang's masterpiece M (1931) catapulted him to international fame. Lang said of Lorre: 'He gave one of the best performances in film history and certainly the best in his life.' Today, the Hungarian-born actor is also recognized for his riveting performances in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The Maltese Falcon (1941), and Casablanca (1942). Lorre arrived in America in 1934 expecting to shed his screen image as a villain. He even tried to lose his signature accent, but Hollywood repeatedly cast him as an outsider who hinted at things better left unknown. Seeking greater control over his career, Lorre established his own production company. His unofficial 'graylisting' by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, however, left him with little work.

"He returned to Germany, where he co-authored, directed, and starred in the film Der Verlorene (The Lost One) in 1951. German audiences rejected Lorre's dark vision of their recent past, and the actor returned to America, wearily accepting roles that parodied his sinister movie personality.The first biography of this major actor, The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre draws upon more than three hundred interviews, including conversations with directors Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, John Huston, Frank Capra, and Rouben Mamoulian, who speak candidly about Lorre, both the man and the actor."

Also available as an eBook.

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Alec Guinness: The Authorized Biography

By Piers Paul Read

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"Sir Alec Guinness was one of the greatest actors of the twentieth century. With a talent recognised by discerning critics from his very first appearance on the stage, he gained a world-wide reputation playing roles on the screen such as Fagin in Oliver Twist and Sidney Stratton in The Man in the White Suit. His performance as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai won him an Oscar and, in his later years, he captivated a new generation of admirers as George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Guinness was a man who vigorously guarded his privacy and, despite publishing an autobiography and two volumes of his diaries, he remained an enigma to the general public and a mystery even to his family and closest friends.

"After his death in August 2000, his widow, Merula, asked the author Piers Paul Read, who had been a friend of her husband, to write his authorised biography. Given full co-operation by the Guinness family and free access to Sir Alec's papers, including his private and unpublished diaries, Read has written an enjoyable, yet penetrating and perceptive account of an intriguing and complex man. Read shows how Guinness's quirks of character and genius had roots in the circumstances of his early life."

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Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers

By Katy Lederer

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"Katy Lederer grew up on the bucolic campus of an exclusive East Coast boarding school where her father taught English, her mother retreated into crosswords and scotch, and her much older siblings played 'grown-up' games like gin rummy and chess. But Katy faced much more than the typical trials of childhood. Within the confines of the Lederer household an unlikely transformation was brewing, one that would turn this darkly intellectual and game-happy group into a family of professional gamblers.

"Poker Face is Katy Lederer’s perceptive account of her family’s lively history. From the long kitchen table where her mother played what seemed an endless game of solitaire, to the seedy New York bars where her brother first learned to play poker, to the glamorous Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, where her sister and brother wager hundreds of thousands of dollars a night at the tables, Lederer takes us on a tragicomic journey through a world where intelligence and deceit are used equally as currency."

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Mountains Beyond Mountains

By Tracy Kidder

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This biography of physician and medical anthropologist Paul Farmer focuses on his work to fight TB in Haiti, Peru, and the countries that used to be part of the USSR. A driven and dedicated man, Dr. Farmer fights obstacles virtually every day of his life on behalf of the people he is trying so hard to help.

Also available in large print.

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Bette Davis

By David Thomson

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She could look demure while behaving like an empress. Blonde, with eyes like pearls too big for her head, she was very striking, but marginally pretty and certainly not beautiful . . . But it was her edge that made her memorable--her upstart superiority, her reluctance to pretend deference to others.

"Bette Davis was the commanding figure of the great era of Hollywood stardom, with a drive and energy that put her contemporaries in the shade. She played queens, jezebels, and bitches; she could out-talk any male costar; she warred with her studio, Warner Bros., worked like a demon, got through four husbands, was nominated for seven Oscars, and--no matter what--never gave up fighting. This is her story."

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Bette Davis: Larger than Life

By Richard Schickel and George Perry

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"'Until you're known in my profession as a monster, you're not a star,' Bette Davis once said. Let's just say in Hollywood she was considered the ultimate star. The Academy Award-winning actress was one of the movies' most riveting and volatile personalities both on and off the screen. She comes to life in the pages of this lavish, fully illustrated tribute produced in conjunction with her estate.

"Bette Davis remains one of the most acclaimed and well-known stars in the history of film. Breaking new ground for women, she was a fighter who took on the Hollywood establishment at the drop of a dime. She reveled in lifelong feuds (such as with arch nemesis and co-star Joan Crawford). She was a mother, wife, and friend. She was also a no-nonsense New Englander who happened to have more talent than the movies seemed able to contain.

"Her personality leapt off the screen and earned her an unprecedented number of high-profile nominations and awards for her work in films like Jezebel, Dark Victory, All About Eve, and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? As the epitaph on Davis's tombstone reads, 'She did it the hard way.' Through a biography, comprehensive filmography, and hundreds of rare photos, readers will find out why."

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Fasten Your Seatbelts: The Passionate Life of Bette Davis

By Lawrence J. Quirk

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"Appearing soon after Davis's death, Quirk's monumental book is actually the culmination of years of research by the celebrity biographer. Though Davis's six-decade film career is discussed, as is her personal life, what is most evident here is the passion of this woman, so often hidden behind an outspoken, and in later life, crusty exterior. This effort may or may not stand as definitive, but right now it's the only one that reveals as much. Highly recommended." (Library Journal)

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