Booknotes: Life Stories: Notable Biographers on the People Who Shaped America

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9780812933390: Booknotes: Life Stories: Notable Biographers on the People Who Shaped America

Conversations with the most admired biographers of our time on the people who have forged our contemporary landscape

C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb invites readers into a virtual conversation -- via the art of biography -- with the legends and luminaries who have helped define America. This informal dictionary of biography peers into the personalities who have left a mark on our world -- a Who's Who of American history, and the next best thing to chatting directly with the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, J. Edgar Hoover, Elijah Muhammad, Amelia Earhart, Katharine Graham, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Frank McCourt, Bill Clinton, and many others.

Based on C-SPAN's popular weekly Booknotes program, this absorbing collection of life stories presents illuminating profiles and often surprising details from our favorite biographers. Booknotes follows the evolution of American history chronologically, and covers the lives of writers and thinkers, inventors and scientists, politicians and soldiers. Lamb reacquaints us with the great figures of our times, in an engaging conversation about America.

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Review:

It wouldn't be entirely unfair--or necessarily a criticism--to call this anthology "Biography Lite." Not that the authors or protagonists of the 85 books it covers are by any stretch of the imagination lightweights. Such distinguished scholars as David Herbert Donald and Nell Irwin Painter share space with respected popular historians like David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin; those profiled include no fewer than 23 American presidents (from George Washington to Bill Clinton), such intellectual heavyweights as Albert Einstein, and capitalist titans on the order of John D. Rockefeller. Since the material is drawn from interviews the writers gave on the popular C-SPAN series Booknotes, however, it unsurprisingly tends to be "brief and anecdotal," as Lamb (the show's host) puts it in his introduction. Still, the anecdotes are often hilarious. Readers learn that Rockefeller chewed each bite of food 10 times and that British prime minister Margaret Thatcher saved the leftovers from state dinners and served them at home, and the interviewees do a commendable job of summing up their subjects' significance in very few words. Like the television program, Booknotes: Life Stories cheerfully promotes in a pleasantly populist manner worthy books you might actually get around to reading someday. --Wendy Smith

From the Back Cover:


"Booknotes is both important and addictive . . . a great book for browsing."--Fritz Lanham, Houston Chronicle

"It's hard to put down. Each chapter is almost sound-bite brief . . . [with] the seductive appeal of a conversational essay."
--Donn Fry, Seattle Times

"Booknotes will delight book lovers and persons interested in the craft of writing."--Lawrence S. O'Connor, Indianapolis Star

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Lamb, Brian
Published by Three Rivers Press (2000)
ISBN 10: 0812933397 ISBN 13: 9780812933390
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