The astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, is a familiar figure to those of us addicted to those documentaries about space that pop up on PBS and the History Channel. Tyson is an affable figure on TV, and proves to be the same in print. This book is a collection of articles that he wrote for “Natural History” magazine. They present complex topics in a clear, conversational manner, infused with humor. Thought-provoking and entertaining.
He was honest, witty, loyal, brilliant, and indefatigable.He was also pompous, arrogant, insecure, petty, and cranky.He probably did more than anyone else to persuade Congress to declare American independence, bu
The writer Andrew Ferguson set out to explore how Abraham Lincoln is viewed and commemorated across the nation nearly 150 years after his death.He visits Lincoln places across the country and talks with those obsessed with our 16th president, wheth
Malcolm Gladwell has made a career of looking at things we thought we knew from a different perspective, as he did in his previous best-sellers Blink and The Tipping Point. In Outliers, he examines success. What makes someone successful? Sure it’s hard work—did you know that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated work to master just about any field?—but it’s also opportunity. And culture. And pure accident. Using examples from the famous and the unknown, along with the most recent scientific studies, Gladwell presents a surprising c
At the time that Mary Ellin Barrett’s parents met, her father Irving Berlin was the world’s most popular, famous, and financially successful songwriter. He had started as a penniless Russian Jewish immigrant, an uneducated child who had scrounged for a living by singing to the drunken wastrels of New York’s sleazy bowery. A dozen years after the death of his first wife (who passed away just months after their marriage), Berlin met the much younger Ellin Mackay, daughter of Clarence Mackay, a fabulously wealthy businessman. Ellin was Catholic, well educated, socially promin
Moss Hart was an enormously successful playwright (“You Can’t Take It With You,” “The Man Who Came to Dinner”), screenwriter (“A Star is Born”), and stage director (“My Fair Lady,” “Camelot”), but this classic memoir deals not with those masterworks, but with his beginnings. It tells the tale of his impoverished New York childhood and the steps leading to his first success, a collaboration with the legendary George S. Kaufmann. This is one of the great memoirs of the era and a must read for anyone interested in theater.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of biographies have been written about Winston Churchill, but none are as insightful, or as gracefully written, as this brilliant work by William Manchester. The book is in two parts: Visions of Glory, which covers the first 58 years of Churchill’s life; and Alone, detailing the 1930s, when Churchill was out of government.
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was a former one-term congressman and two-time failed senate candidate from Illinois. Despite this feeble resume, he managed to outmaneuver the top leaders of the Republican party—all far more experienced and better known than Lincoln—and win the nomination for president. Once elected, and as the southern states began pulling out of the Union, Lincoln selected these same political rivals as the members of his new cabinet.
From the 1920s to the 1960s, Edna Ferber was one of America’s most popular writers, turning out a string of best-selling novels, such as So Big (Pulitzer Prize winner), Show Boat, Come and Get It, and Giant, many of which became equally successful plays and films. Ferber herself also wrote successful plays (Stage Door, The Royal Family) with theatrical legend George S. Kauffmann, and was peripheral member of the famed Algonquin Round Table of notable wits.
The main character of this novel is one of the most despised people in America: he’s a lobbyist for the smoking industry. He’s not friendless, however. His frequent lunch companions include the chief representatives for the gun industry and the alcohol lobby. They privately refer to themselves as “The MOD Squad” (as in Merchants of Death). In this hilarious novel, Buckley not only skewers the tobacco industry, but Washington, Hollywood, the press, and modern society in general. The book is also the source of an excellent movie of the same name.
When informed that George Gershwin had died, the novelist John O’Hara wrote, “I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” Gershwin was only 38 at the time of his death, and had been widely seen as the future of American music.