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Essays in Biography Hardcover – October 16, 2012
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(Kirkus Reviews, July 2012)
Erudite . . . eloquent . . . opinionated . . . edifying and often very entertaining. (Publishers Weekly, July 2012)
The joys of reading Joseph Epstein are many. . . . Readers consistently find wit, whimsy, and learning at the most accessible and enjoyable level.
--Larry Thornberry, The American Spectator, October 1, 2012
(Larry Thornberry The American Spectator, October 1, 2012)
Mr. Epstein’s essays are brilliant distillations . . . [which] bring to biography a genius of discernment. (Carl Rollyson The Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2012)
About the Author
Northwestern for many years. He is the author of 22 books, many of them collections of essays, and
has also written for numerous magazines including the New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Commentary.
Top Customer Reviews
Joseph Epstein's "Essays in Biography" examines the details of the lives of people classified into four categories:
1. Americans: such as George Washington, George Santayana, Adlai Stevenson, Saul Bellow, Irving Howe. Susan Sontag - and more.
2. Ennglishmen: such as Max Beerbohm, T.S. Elliott, Maurice Bowra, and Isaiah Berlin - and more.
3. Popular Culture: such as Alfred Kinsey, Charles Van Doren, W.C. Fields, Joe DiMaggio, Michael Jordan, Michael Gladwell - and more.
4. And Others: such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Erich Heller, and Matthew Shanahan --- Mr. Epstein's friend who he dedicated this book too.
Unless you are taking a nap while reading these essays, it is impossible not be enertained, educated, discover dashes of humor often mixed with peppery quotes and dishes of juicy gossip. When Mr. Epstein brings to life these characters --- you feel like you are sitting down with an old wise friend who knows these people and lets you in on the twists and turns in the labyrinths of their minds.
Mr. Epstein has a talent for just the right turn of phrase to capture a quirky personality trait, or get across the endless mysteries of how experiences may shape minds. Mr. Epstein is allergic to psychoanalytic and pop psychology pseudo- explanations that some docs say make people tic. He knows that the more abstractions we apply to explain peoples' lives, the more reality leaves the room.
There is so much to enjoy, laugh about and learn in these wonderful essays.
In any event, this is the first book I read last year upon my retirement. It is absolutely enjoyable, informative, and entertaining. Political judgments are present, honestly stated, but do not predominate. What predominates are fascinating and insightful short biographies of a wide range of persons, often those with whom Mr. Epstein had an acquaintance. His insider information is quite valuable in these sketches. And his humor throughout is wonderful. (His concluding paragraph on Alfred Kinsey is hilarious and worth the price of the book.) I loved the book and highly recommend it.
Epstein covers a wide range of notable people in this book with both insight and humor. I found that even when I might not agree with his take on certain people, his viewpoint challenged my own "take" on those people such that I often walked away with new insights.
Well worth your time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Joseph Epstein is our greatest essayist! He is incapable of writing a boring sentence.Published 3 months ago by Sonia Kantor
Getting more intimate knowledge about people i've known about or learning about others I did not know before made for very interesting reading most especially when the writer is of... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Mike
Epstein's great virtue is an honest look at every
person and plain language about them.
Joseph Epstein's "Essays in Biography" is a compilation of the author's past articles, book reviews, memoriual essays, etc. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Philip Brantingham
This is an interesting way to learn about history, philosophy, and famous people. It's stirs my imagination because it presents an intimate view of a variety of people.Published 20 months ago by Susan
Pretty good in spots, very good in others. The best we can do, I guess, but a far cry from the British essayists who address large subjects and small men people think are large.Published 21 months ago by Banjo
I have read most of Joseph Epstein's 13 collections of essays dating back to Divorced in America: Marriage in an Age of Possibility (1974) but this is the first I have reviewed and... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Robert Morris
I have been reading Joseph Epstein since the early 70's He is a giant in the world of letters and I was lucky enough to receive The American Scholar throughout his editorship. Read morePublished 22 months ago by equinimitas