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Extraordinary Lives: The Art and Craft of American Biography

by William Zinsser (Editor)

Other authors: Robert A. Caro (Contributor), Jean Strouse (Contributor)

Series: The Writer's Craft

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1082212,625 (3.64)None
Here, six eminent biographers explain the pleasures and problems of their craft of reconstructing other people's lives. The result is a book rich in anecdote and in surprising new information about a variety of famous Americans.David McCullough takes us along on the exhilarating journey to Missouri to find "The Unexpected Harry Truman."Richard B. Sewall describes his twenty-year search for the elusive poet, Emily Dickinson.Paul C. Nagel tells us about "The Adams Women" - four generations of women he came to admire while writing his earlier biography of the Adams family.Ronald Steel, author of a much-honored biography of the nation's greatest journalist, recalls in "Living with Walter Lippman," how the life of the biographer can become entwined with that of his subject.Jean Strouse, on the trail of J. P. Morgan, discusses the fact that "there are two reasons why a man does anything, a good reason and a real reason."Robert A. Caro reveals the frustrations of trying to unearth the true facts about Lyndon Johnson, a man who went to great pains to conceal them.Together, these six biographers take us through a gallery of unique American lives - most of them moving, many of them startling, and all of them extraordinary.… (more)
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Another of the four volumes of the Craft of Writing series, this volume publishes six lectures given at the New York Public Library in the winter of 1985. As well as insights into the lives of those portrayed, the lectures offer a glimpse of how biographers work, both the habits such as visiting the locales where the subject lived and worked, combing archives, and interviewing people who knew the subject, as well as in the sense of the moral compass that guides a biographer in dealing with the life of another person. Recommended. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
I really enjoyed some of the chapters, especially David McCullough and Robert B. Sewall. I am attempting to write a children's biography right now, and I got some ideas about how to go about it. So that is great. I got a bit bored part of the way through though, and I felt the book veered of its path. ( )
  TheLoisLevel | May 7, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zinsser, WilliamEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caro, Robert A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Strouse, JeanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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Here, six eminent biographers explain the pleasures and problems of their craft of reconstructing other people's lives. The result is a book rich in anecdote and in surprising new information about a variety of famous Americans.David McCullough takes us along on the exhilarating journey to Missouri to find "The Unexpected Harry Truman."Richard B. Sewall describes his twenty-year search for the elusive poet, Emily Dickinson.Paul C. Nagel tells us about "The Adams Women" - four generations of women he came to admire while writing his earlier biography of the Adams family.Ronald Steel, author of a much-honored biography of the nation's greatest journalist, recalls in "Living with Walter Lippman," how the life of the biographer can become entwined with that of his subject.Jean Strouse, on the trail of J. P. Morgan, discusses the fact that "there are two reasons why a man does anything, a good reason and a real reason."Robert A. Caro reveals the frustrations of trying to unearth the true facts about Lyndon Johnson, a man who went to great pains to conceal them.Together, these six biographers take us through a gallery of unique American lives - most of them moving, many of them startling, and all of them extraordinary.

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