Biographies

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koan
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Biographies

Post by koan »

Do you read many of them? What makes a biography good?

I tend to only read biographies of people I've already come to like and want to know more about or understand better. A well told story can overcome whether or not I like the person's work. I don't like boxing but I respect it more because of films like Cinderella Man. Though some of the story is challenged for accuracy, Cinderella Man isn't just about one man's struggle, it's about overcoming obstacles and beating odds.
Ahso!
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Post by Ahso! »

It's no surprise to me human interest stories of overcoming odds to survive such as Cinderella Man would capture the attention of other humans because survival and reproduction is what we are all about, it's in our genes.

I read a lot of biographies when I was young and longed to understand the history of those who came before me. Old photos were fascinating as well. The only biographies I find myself interested in now are my own and that of my children and probably my future grandchildren.
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spot
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Post by spot »

I'm not sure how people have a grasp of the society they live in if they don't read biographies. I have two from the library over Christmas, one on Douglas Haig and the other on John Wesley. The Haig was a good try but the Wesley book, Roy Hattersley's from 2002, is superlative. To the point where I might write my congratulations to the author once I've finished. It's not so much a biography as an achievement, it doesn't describe so much as provide a running commentary, it's an analysis of the time in the framework of one small bunch of people plus Mr Hattersley himself. The author is as much a heavyweight as his subject.
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koan
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Biographies

Post by koan »

It's got to be a bit of a daunting task, especially when the subject is dead so can't be consulted for accuracy. If you admire someone enough to write their biography it would be horrifying to think of misrepresenting them.
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flopstock
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Post by flopstock »

I remember in high school, picking up a book in the library and diving into the life of sammy davis junior - yes i can

No idea why i picked it up just know i didn't put it down til i was done
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chonsigirl
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Post by chonsigirl »

I read my Plutarch's Lives over and over again. I really don't read any modern biographies.
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along-for-the-ride
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Post by along-for-the-ride »

I do enjoy reading biographies. A good one not just tells about the person, but also the times during which he/she lived.
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koan
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Post by koan »

I'm reading A Beautiful Mind right now. The movie was really great but it's not exactly what happened.
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Accountable
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Post by Accountable »

koan;1349257 wrote: I'm reading A Beautiful Mind right now. The movie was really great but it's not exactly what happened.
I saw that title in Half-Priced Books. I didn't realize it was a biography, though.

The last biography I read was the Autobiography of Malcom X. Outstanding read.
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spot
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Post by spot »

It's odd that there's only one word, biography, for three wildly different things. There's ancient history like chonsi's Plutarch, there's books about people who died a while before the book was written and there's books about the living or just-not-quite-living at the time of publication. I don't see any way at all in which they're related.

I enjoy a good obituary, mind. For decades the obits was the first section I turned to when the paper was delivered. Then the Letters, then the Foreign, then Domestic, then the main headlines. I don't think I ever saw a sport report.
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koan
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Post by koan »

Malcolm X looks like a good one too.

I've been meaning to read Andy Warhol's biography for a long time too.
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binbag
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Post by binbag »

I can't be bothered reading the figment of some other person's imagination.

I only ever read autobiographies or biographies of a wide range of people of different standing in society, past or present.

I enjoy historical biographies, but something I discovered, despite being a Scot, Scottish biographies are the most boring. Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace, etc.... strange.

With "autobiographies" I try to find a different slant on someone's life by reading "biographies" by different authors. It's the only way to get a real insight into someone's life.

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theia
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Post by theia »

The Way Things Happen by Ingaret Giffard stayed with me long after I read it in the late eighties
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Kathy Ellen
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Post by Kathy Ellen »

I'm having my 3rd graders (8 years old) take out a biography book this week to write a report.

Who would you recommend and why?
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Accountable
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Post by Accountable »

Kathy Ellen;1349559 wrote: I'm having my 3rd graders (8 years old) take out a biography book this week to write a report.

Who would you recommend and why?George Washington Carver is always a winner with the younger kids. It's amazing that a man who came from nothing to such prominence, would raise a throwaway legume in very much the same way.
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LarsMac
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Post by LarsMac »

I read biographies all the time, as well.

No one in particular, just when someone crosses my path, so to speak.

I also like autobiographies, and such.
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koan
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Post by koan »

Kathy Ellen;1349559 wrote: I'm having my 3rd graders (8 years old) take out a biography book this week to write a report.

Who would you recommend and why?
I read the Diary of Anne Frank around that age but it might be a little too intense. It's definitely the first autobiography I ever read.

I think the most intriguing biography to date is And I Don't Want To Live This Life about Nancy Spungeon... of Sid and Nancy fame. She was like the Yoko Ono of the punk world. :wah:
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LarsMac
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Post by LarsMac »

I recommend the autobiography of Ben Franklin.

or perhaps, for 3rd graders, biography of Walt Disney, or Jim Henson.

They can see the results of these guys' work everyday.
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spot
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Post by spot »

theia;1349549 wrote: The Way Things Happen by Ingaret Giffard stayed with me long after I read it in the late eighties


I've been trying to find snippets about her, since you posted this. She seems a compelling person who had the misfortune to marry a rather glib self-publicist, Laurens van der Post. She sounds far more interesting than he ever was outside of his own fantasies.
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