Drugs and Words
February 15, 2011

Robert Morrison’s biography somewhat daringly takes its title from De Quincey’s most famous work, Confessions of an English Opium Eater. While he draw

The Enthusiast
January 31, 2011

In his new book, Leigh Eric Schmidt, a historian of religion, uses Ida Craddock’s life to illuminate this fascinating period in American religious his

The Medium Is McLuhan
January 12, 2011

Marshall McLuhan was a scholar of literature, with a doctorate from Cambridge, and his interpretation of the intellectual and social effects of media

Up from Zero Hour
January 11, 2011

Jürgen Habermas ranks today as the single most important public intellectual in all of Continental Europe. But he is also a formidable philosopher who

Life Lessons
December 29, 2010

Two recently published picture books, remarkable examples of biography for children, eschew romanticization of their subjects and the perpetuation of

The Wee Small Facts
December 23, 2010

James Kaplan, in Frank: The Voice, draws heavily on previously published biographies—especially Kitty Kelley's 1986 His Way, as well as the books on S

The Missing Subject
December 21, 2010

Susan Cheever's Louisa May Alcott takes no viewpoint and proves no hypothesis. Even more damningly, one cannot read Cheever’s work for the bare facts

Before Sainthood
December 13, 2010

David James Smith does a fine job explaining the rivalry with the Pan-Africanist Congress, which opposed the multiracial makeup of the ANC, and of con

November 16, 2010

Cleopatra was a brilliant politician and strategist who became an icon of sinuous feminine danger and manipulation. She has long been the archetypical

Anatomy of Melancholy
November 02, 2010

New biographers of Samuel Johnson seem less awed by him, the shaper of men, than by his disciple. Johnson’s moralizing has become quaint. As professio