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I Put a Spell on You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone Hardcover – February 25, 1992


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 181 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st American ed edition (February 25, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679410686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679410683
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,497,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Simone grew up during the Depression in a small North Carolina town where, thanks to a farsighted music teacher and caring neighbors who paid for her lessons, she was trained as a classical pianist. After attending Juilliard on a scholarship she was rejected by the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia (a setback she attributes to the fact that she is black), and she became a nightclub entertainer, singing and accompanying herself on the piano and, with her skillful improvisations of popular songs in classical style, quickly becoming a star. In the 1960s she joined the civil rights movement and became well known as a protest singer. Then, in the 1970s and '80s, disillusioned with the U.S., she went into self-imposed exile in Africa and Europe. Unfortunately, written with freelancer Cleary, her account of these later years, in which she concentrates on personal problems and a number of tiresome love affairs, lacks the interest of the early part of the book, which describes her unusual childhood and remarkable rise to fame. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Lincoln Center Institute Resource Center blog, 7/9/09
“Compelling, honest, and powerful. It is meticulously packed with historical information on America during some of its ugliest times, coming from the voice of someone who lived through it everyday…a voice of a woman who devoted her adult life to changing the face of society…From a musical standpoint alone, I Put a Spell On You is an extremely valuable read. However, this would also be a unique, relevant and worthwhile addition to any high-school or collegiate history library, or anyone with an interest in the civil rights movement both politically and artistically.”
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

She has led a very interesting, unusual, and adventurous life.
Lucy Ding
She knew right from wrong no matter what was going in her life so there is no excuse for why she did a lot of the things she did.
Danja
If anything, the rest of us should never forget that we get all the benefits of her suffering without the pain.
S.Dobbs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Nina Simone is a great artist with a compelling story to tell. Unfortunately, little of that story comes across in this book. Ms. Simone shares all sorts of details about her lovers, but very little about her music. There is almost nothing in the book about her recording sessions or why she sings particular songs the way she does. While Ms. Simone is very frank about her personal life, I would have liked to have learned more about her music. The book is also confusing because Ms. Simone will spend many pages on just a few days, and then entire years will be dismissed by a sentence or two. Ms. Simone's collaborator should have edited the book better and drawn out more music-related stories from her.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Lucy Ding on February 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Nina Simone is one my All-time favorite artists and to read her story in her own words was quite a thrill. She has led a very interesting, unusual, and adventurous life. However, I found myself wishing that she would be a little bit more introspective in the telling of the story. She went from event to event without really giving a detailed picture of how she actually felt. When the book was over I didn't really feel any different than when I began reading the book, just more knowlegeable.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By S.B. Davidson on July 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
It is true that this book is not well written and seems to have been put together on the quick without any professional editing. My guess is that it was written as a means to make a fast buck. That said, the autobiography is worth reading because it is the only real glimpse many of us will ever get into the psyche of Nina Simone. I read that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the 1960s and this was kept secret until well after her death. I don't know for a fact if she actually had bipolar disorder. However, it is evident from reading her life story as told by her that she did have emotional and psychiatric problems. She made rash and erratic decisions for her and her daughter and her life seemed to be filled with self imposed chaos. She was an angry person, was always running from some thing, and blamed anyone and anything but herself for her unhappiness and problems. Most surprising to me was how she was always looking for someone, usually a man, to save her. I had no idea before reading this book that Nina Simone struggled so much with low self esteem, fear, hate, and erratic behavior. Her music is so powerful and she comes off as such a strong and solid person. That is why this book is worth reading. Compared with her music and stage persona, the autobiography shows a different side or Nina Simone. With the two combined, the reader realizes just how complex and even tragic, Nina Simone the woman was. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know a little more about Nina Simone. She is an imperfect human being and this is her account of her life
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Liza Molina on December 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
Easy reading written not by a professional writer, but someone who spoke straight from the heart. Nina unquestionably is a little nastolgic and very cocky ... but nonetheless, a phenomenon in her own right.
One of this country's most brilliant musicians "I put a spell on you" gave me the opportunity to put a face on those Nina Simone records I play over and over again.
I would recommend that those of you who love her music, take the time to understand this remarkable women by reading her biography.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Just about the only thing as rich, as continuously shocking, moving, funny, proud, lusty, painful, regal, beautiful and bizarre as Nina Simone's music is her life, told here with frankness that'll make you weep. Buy this book. Buy the Colpix years anthology 2 CD set. Send them to your friends.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S.Dobbs on January 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is primarily a response to "Lemas Mitchell's" review entitled "A case study in mental illness, stupidity and pure insanity" :
The point is not to ponder how Nina Simone could have, or should have lived her life, but to discover how she did live her life. I don't think Nina Simone had to prove anything or give us any more - she already gave so much of herself through her music. And had she not suffered, her music might not have had the depth and richness that is has. If anything, the rest of us should never forget that we get all the benefits of her suffering without the pain.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
Nina Simone proves in this autobiography that she is indeed a survivor...as a black woman trying to make it in a white man's world, Nina Simone soared to fame with her unique style and graceful approach to music. This book traces Nina's history as a young ambitious child in North Carolina to a sophisticated, wise diva in Amsterdam. It is apparent upon reading this book, that it was Nina's destiny to become an International success as a performer. Reading about what was at the heart of her decisions both as a performer and as a civil rights activist in the 60s, enabled me to admire her all the more. This book is essential for Nina fans all over the world!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James B. Franko on June 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always wondered how she put so much passion and anger into her music. Now I know. She lived a very up and down life. She knew what she wanted and went after it no matter how much pain or joy is caused her. After reading this book , I can understand how she performed on stage like it was her last night on earth. She was surrounded by tough situations and a tough life. I applaud her for her fire and passion.

People are saying that it wasn't written well enough, keep in mind that she was a musician first and foremost. I was happy to read this book even though the onslaught of sad moments in her life kept coming right at you. I think she was way ahead of her time and I really respect her even more after having read this book.
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