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A Ship Without A Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart Hardcover – July 3, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1ST edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416594256
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416594253
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The whole story, joyful and unflinching, of an astounding talent. This biography really has Hart.”
—Laurence Bergreen, author of As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin and Columbus: The Four Voyages


“Sophisticated, engaging, elegant, and packed with absorbing detail, A Ship Without A Sail is the definitive biography of Larry Hart for which all of us who love his work have been waiting. That Gary Marmorstein has captured the soaring highs and the crushing lows of that short, unhappy life so completely and so sympathetically is a truly remarkable—even enviable—achievement. And I speak of what I know.”
—Frederick Nolan, author of The Sound of Their Music: The Story of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lorenz Hart: A Poet on Broadway

"Marmorstein brings to the task just the right precision instruments for dissecting Larry Hart -- panache, sympathy and smarts. The very title of his book goes to the heart of the tortured story he tells so well. . . . He knows the period and its players inside out and along the way offers wonderful cameos of many minor figures in the story..."
—J. D. McClatchy, The Wall Street Journal


“Readers will be grateful that Gary Marmorstein, who writes about film, theater and popular music, has resuscitated Hart, also known as Larry, in riveting detail in his A Ship Without a Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart.” (Sam Roberts The New York Times)

“A deeply sympathetic biography of Lorenz Hart, the talented, troubled lyricist of film and Broadway fame. Marmorstein has done an enormous service for fans of stage and movie musicals of the early decades of the 20th century. . . . ‘Ev’rything I’ve got belongs to you,’ goes one Hart lyric that now, thanks to the author’s thorough, affectionate research, holds another, profoundly poignant meaning.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The lyricist who, with composer Richard Rodgers, penned 'Blue Moon,' 'The Lady Is a Tramp,' and other standards is a figure worthy of his own bittersweet songs in this graceful biography. . . . A vivid panorama of pre-WWII musical theater and the efflorescence of Jewish-American tune- and word-smithing that created it. Marmorstein’s take on his subject’s life feels like a Rodgers and Hart show, nicely balanced between exhilarating spectacle and pithy revelations of character."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A fine new biography of Lorenz Hart by Gary Marmorstein, A Ship Without a Sail, makes clear that Hart, over the years since his early death at age 48 in 1943, has been taken up by the very society he set out, in his lyrics, to unsettle." (David Hadju The New Republic)

"Hart has his shining hour in a new biography. . . . It's the absorbing story of a sparkling but tormented artist and a rich slice of show business history. . . . A Ship Without a Sail quotes liberally from Hart's lyrics, and Marmorstein's analysis is always interesting and often revelatory."
—John Fleming, Tampa Bay Tribune


"Brings a new dimension to so many familiar songs."
Booklist


"Marmorstein bolsters the story of Hart's rocketlike career with a wealth of factual detail. . . . [Marmorstein's] biographer's sense, his dogged researches, and his fair-mindedness constantly lead him in good directions. His account of Rodgers's controversial involvement in Hart's business affairs at his death is the best-balanced I've encountered."
—Michael Feingold, the Village Voice

About the Author

Gary Marmorstein is the author of Hollywood Rhapsody and The Label and has written about film, theater, and popular music for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Stagebill, among many other publications.

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Customer Reviews

This has to be the most definitive work on the life of Lorenz Hart.
Arthur Glauberman
After spending many hours with this book, I came to the conclusion that perhaps Mr. Marmorstein really didn't have much compassion for his subject matter.
Kal Peyton
Marmorstein manages to weave together the personal details of Hart's life with the history of musical theater and always provides historical context.
Dan Segal

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you're interested in the memorable songwriting team of Rodgers and Hart, forget the squeaky clean film movie starring Mickey Rooney as Lorenz Hart and pick up a copy of Gary Marmorstein's gentle but honest, carefully researched story of Hart's all too short life.

Short might well be an operative word here as the adult Hart barely reached five feet. He was an immensely talented but deeply troubled soul. Together Rodgers and Hart had an enormous impact on the musical world in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. They gave us such hit Broadway shows as On Your Toes, Babes In Arms, Pal Joey and countless songs - My Funny Valentine, Blue Moon, I Wish I Were In Love Again, Where or When, and more that are loved, played and sung today.

Marmorstein has accomplished a yeoman's task in detailing the days of Hart's life from his iconic pairing with Rodgers to his disturbed personality to his sexuality to his alcoholism. Hart was not an easy working partner, later given to tardiness and sometimes total disappearance. Yet he seemed able to dash off his best in 30 minutes and was without peer as a lyricist - eloquent, witty, urbane, romantic, wistful. He felt the bars had not been pushed far enough in American musicals, and he did it with gusto and to great acclaim.

There are so many memorable ancillary characters coming and going in the lives of Rodgers and Hart that A Ship Without A Sail is always fascinating reading, brimming with anecdotes and quotations. Yet, for this reader the story is clouded with sadness sadness as Hart follows his self-destructive path. His early death was an immeasurable loss. But we will always have his unforgettable words - he gave us so much we cannot help but wish that life had given him more.

- Gail Cooke
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dan Segal on August 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you want to read a thoroughly researched biography about one of our greatest lyricists, then I strongly recommend this elegantly written book. Marmorstein manages to weave together the personal details of Hart's life with the history of musical theater and always provides historical context. He sheds light on how the political and cultural events of the day influenced Hart's work and demonstrates the ground breaking quality to Hart's lyrics.
That would be enough in itself, but the author's appreciation and insight into the songs of Rodgers and Hart is irresistible. Marmorstein connects threads in Hart's lyrics and does so through the decades. I am grateful not only for the insights, but also Marmorstein's elegant prose, always with a light touch and a stunning re-creation of New York City in Hart's times.
Finally, the book enables you to learn new things about Hart's personal history, which makes for a richer appreciation of his magnificent lyrics. (note to some of the other reviewers here - some of this information may be new to you and some of this information may make you uncomfortable, but that's how we learn.)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Angus T. Cat on January 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Last year, when I heard that a new biography of Lorenz Hart was going to be published, I was delighted. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's songs have fascinated me and inspired me as far back as I can remember; Hart is one of my lifelong heroes. When I read Dorothy Hart's tribute to him, "Thou Swell, Thou Witty" I first realised the sophistication, great range and achievement of his lyrics. Shortly afterwards "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bedeviled" by by Samuel Marx and Jan Clayton was released. I was still a young teenager but I sensed when I read "Bewitched" that a great deal of Hart's life could or would not be spoken about openly until the time of the book's publication, the 1970s. For a long time it was one of the few accounts that discussed Hart's torment about his sexuality. I felt there was still much about Hart's life that has never been fully examined or considered. I welcomed Frederick Nolan's 1995 biography of Hart. Unfortunately Nolan faced several difficulties in writing his biography: he was denied permission to cite any of Hart's lyrics and later found that the ban was due to opposition from Dorothy Hart, who angrily wrote over the manuscript's discussions of her beloved brother in law's homosexuality, "Lies, lies, lies."

Gary Marmorstein clearly reveres Hart's lyrics: the chapter titles are memorable phrases from them. His research is through: he meticulously details the shows, films, and scores Rodgers and Hart created together from their first meeting in 1919, when Rodgers was 16 and Hart 24, to their last collaboration in 1943. He succeeds in giving an awareness of the effects of the Second World War on New York and the American theatre world. Perhaps one of the reasons why Oklahoma!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Hart on October 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a relative of Lorenz Hart's I highly recommend this fabulously detailed account of Larry Hart's life and times. His incredible contribution to the great American Songbook, Broadway, Musicals on film are among the greatest to date. His music continues to be popular-- in fact some say even more popular today then they were in his heyday!! Thanks to Gary Marmorstein for a meticulously detailed portrayal! Please check out the official facebook page for Lorenz Hart I created: [...]
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