The Stench of Perfume
September 08, 2011

Hal Vaughan's biography distinguishes itself from the many other Chanel biographies by tackling the dicey subject of Gabrielle Chanel’s activities dur

Turn and Face the Strain
August 29, 2011

Paul Trynka, whose life of David Bowie, fascinating though it is on the quotidian detail of his young life, doesn’t begin to account for its subject’s

The Work, Not the Life
August 11, 2011

Joan Mitchell, who was born in 1925 in Chicago and died in 1992 in Paris, was an expressionist and a romantic. But she considered herself to be an int

Dateline Hitler
July 18, 2011

William L. Shirer, born in 1904, was one of the twentieth century’s great reporters. He witnessed many of the key events of the 1930s in Europe at fir

The Power Lover
July 13, 2011

Machiavelli may not have been the greatest political philosopher of all time, but he certainly was the most notorious. As Miles J. Unger argues in his

The Trouble with Genius
July 07, 2011

What happened to Bobby Fischer? That question has haunted millions of fans, and it provides a biographer with a great opportunity and a curse. The opp

The Secret Agent
June 30, 2011

The most accomplished spy of the American Revolution, Edward Bancroft, was once a man whose name was known only to scholars. It took a whole century f

The First Celebrity
April 25, 2011

An argument could be made that the first modern master of exposure-driven fame was Adah Isaacs Menken, who reigned as “America’s Original Superstar” (

The Counter-Revolutionaries
March 31, 2011

For much of the twentieth century, Americans’ images of China were shaped by the actions of one couple—the “Gimo” Chiang Kai-shek and his glamorous wi

Morals and Markets
March 21, 2011

Adam Smith is not exactly a biographer’s dream. An intensely private man, he seemed to go out of his way to leave no trail for future chroniclers. Mos