This book is not the author's best biography. Most information about Grace Kelly has been around for years, and this book adds nothing new. However, the production is outstanding with classical music provided during the transitions.
Like Lord Byron, Dennis Hopper lived his life with no moral boundaries. This may be shocking to some listeners, but somehow I think Hopper would be pleased that he is at last considered worthy of a biography. I have not read this book, and, after listening to the wonderful narration, I don't think I want to. The narration keeps the book entertaining because the narrator adapts all forms of accents (Australian, British, etc.) and gives a close interpretation of Hopper's voice, even Hopper's weird laugh. Hopper's life included so many others: Peter Fonda, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, etc. From Hopper's beginning in Kansas to his death in 2010, the author gives a revealing and honest look at Dennis Hopper's life, art, and philosophy.
Having read this book decades ago, I was thrilled to purchase this audiobook. It's just as fascinating as I remembered. If you are looking for technical details of Hitchcock's movies, forget this one. However, if you want a psychological analysis of Hitch's life and his many phobias, you will be spellbound. Born the son of a Cockney grocer, Alfred Hitchcock began writing titles for silent movies. All Hitchcock's movies contain his fears, fascinations (especially with his leading ladies), and phobias. The author, Donald Spoto, was the first to dehumanize Hitch's genius by revealing his dark side, but somehow this makes future viewings of Hitchcock's films more fascinating.
Monroe's life is full of mystery, from her birth to her death. Donald Spoto tries to solve this mystery, but I don't always agree with his conclusions. For example, was Monroe's psychiatrist responsible for her death? Was Robert Kennedy completely innocent of an affair with Monroe? This is Spoto's conclusion. However, I'm glad this audiobook finally made it to Audible. Narration is fine, not great. The afterword gives some thoughtful reflections on the Monroe "cottage industry" that was primarily started by Robert Slatzer and others.This book will keep you thinking about the unanswered questions of Monroe's life and death, even if you don't agree with the author's conclusions.
The novice reader may not know Ayn Rand's philosophy, although the author does attempt to explain her philosophy within Rand's biography. Perhaps first acquiring "The World of Atlas Shrugged" (available on audible.com) will make Rand's philosophy more understandable. If you are familiar with the concept of "Objectivism," you will enjoy listening to how Ayn Rand's personal life led her to her ideology that many Libertarians and economic advisors (Allan Greenspan) have admired. The narration is well-read, but the overall story is actually more dramatically presented in Barbara Brandton's book "The Passion of Ayn Rand" (not available in audible). However, I've enjoyed listening to this biography on several occasions and I've learned something new each time, but be aware that a little background on Rand will be helpful.
In spite of Dorothy Parker's sad, tragic life, her point of view gives a cynical, humorous twist to all the tragedies she encounters. I've heard this book many times and I always enjoy it because of Dorothy's complexity (insanity?) and the people she knew: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gerald and Sara Murphy, and, of course, the Algonquin Round Table (Robert Benchley, Alexander Woolcutt, etc.). Dorothy's sarcastic quips are a quick relief from the heartbreaking choices she makes as a pre-feminist writer: hiding her Jewish background, selecting handsome (gay?) men that she emasculates, attempting suicide several times, embracing the fast life of NYC and Hollywood, naively supporting Communistic causes, and failing to complete a long-awaited book. However, Dorothy Parker's short stories and poetry are still relevant today, especially for feminists and literature lovers. Narration is fine, but a couple of phrases like "turn over the tape for side 2" can be jarring. I hope you enjoy this audiobook. I did and still do.
Trying to understand how slavery became a Southern legal institution is essential to understanding American history.The author attempts this arduous task by revealing the relationship of two families through four generations, one black, another white. The Hemings and the Jeffersons were entangled long before Sally Hemings came into Thomas Jefferson's life. Sally was the half-sister of Thomas Jefferson's deceased wife--a mind-boggling thought the author tries to articulate. This audible book is as fascinating as the book and is narrated well. One criticism: the author keeps explaining again and again how we need to realize attitudes were different during the formation of the Jamestown colony. That is pretty obvious, although I don't remember thinking that as I read the book. However, all sides of the slavery issue are presented, including philosophical questions of the fact that the United States permitted slavery while proclaiming itself a democracy. The best part is the "love" story between Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Why didn't Sally remain in Paris instead of going back with Jefferson as his slave? Did she regret her choice? Why did Jefferson make a "treaty" with Sally to "free" her adult children? Did Jefferson love Sally or is it impossible to love someone you legally own? The answers are not fully resolved because scholars simply don't know, but the questions are intriguing and thought-provoking.
The biography is one of the best written of all Hollywood biographies, and to have the author, Lauren Bacall, read her memoirs in her smoky voice is sheer heaven. Highly recommended.
Natalie Wood's sister (Lana) reads "Natasha" with great intensity, especially the horrific story of Natalie's drowning. The book is well-researched and is probably the definitive biography of Natalie Wood, aka Natasha Gurdin.
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