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Biography & autobiography

Being Nixon: A Man Divided

Despite its jumpiness “Being Nixon” makes its way through the inevitable stops on this long, oft-described and still fascinating journey

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past

A stronger thematic focus and a steadier progression through Teege’s story may have given this book greater cohesion, thereby allowing the reader to become more immersed in it.

Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker

Thomas Kunkel has compiled a profile which should help create a renewed appreciation for the work of a very fine writer. Joe Mitchell might be ambivalent about the probing, but he would likely be pleased with the attention and empathy.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

Blackout is an enthralling interrogation of a life. Even the most banal moments are beautiful, elevated, and resonate across the human experience.

The Good Shufu: Finding Love, Self, and Home on the Far Side of the World

The Good Shufu promises an examination of how marriages fare in a culture clash, but it only delivers a faint echo of the marriage, little of the culture, and none of the clash.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

The first two-thirds of “Blackout,” however, are simply extraordinary. Ms. Hepola’s electric prose marks her as a flamingo among this genre’s geese.

Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County is no longer the backwater it was in 1959, but there is still little support for the public schools, little will to undo decades of unequal education. Separate and unequal has a new face in Prince Edward County today, with liberty and sovereignty for some.

The Seven Good Years: A Memoir

Keret calls it a memoir but it's really a TARDIS — a time machine that does two kinds of magic at once.

The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects

Deborah Lutz in The Brontë Cabinet doesn’t altogether eschew chronology, but her fix on stuff over story does obscure the drama of the siblings dying and books being born.

Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker

“Man in Profile” is an elegant and moving biography of a subject who was as much a New York character as his New York characters were, someone who deeply believed in the city’s magic and added to its store of idiosyncrasy.

Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll

Klein changed the way rock does business. In this balanced, fascinating, and well-written biography, Goodman gives him credit where it’s due.

The Seven Good Years: A Memoir

The 36 pieces that comprise this pleasing book reveal a writer with a keen eye for life's oddities and an ability to share his insights with humor and frank emotion.

It Starts with Trouble: William Goyen and the Life of Writing

It turns out that the easiest way to make sense of Goyen is to locate him, as Davis does, in the East Texas lumber town of his earliest years.

Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist

Blum’s exercise of power in 1936 seems — despite his accomplishments — to have marked insecure perimeters rather than the path to a new continent.

The Odd Woman and the City

Her memoir gains its tension from the threat of impinging loneliness, its joy from the encounters she forges on her own, nameless, on the street.

Anger Is an Energy

There’s plenty of good stuff, particularly the chapters in which Lydon conjures his hardscrabble youth.

Lord Fear: A Memoir

A nonlinear, scrapbook-style investigative memoir as redolent of the bluesy crime pursuits of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe as it is of the narcotized reveries of William Burroughs.

The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West

“The Goddess Pose” builds to a thrilling conclusion, exposing the power struggles and sex scandals within Sai Baba’s inner circle, a tale reminiscent of recent bad behavior by other male gurus.

You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up

When fans know the tales of child actors are all too often rife with turbulence, reading the memoir of the girl who avoided it all just isn’t worth the time.

In Search of Sir Thomas Browne: The Life and Afterlife of the Seventeenth Century's Most Inquiring Mind

An elegant, pleasantly obsessive study of a “life of tolerance, humour, serenity and untiring curiosity.”