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Anna: The Biography Hardcover – May 3, 2022
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Bloomberg’s 10 Most Compelling Books to Put on Your Reading List This Spring
This definitive biography of Anna Wintour follows the steep climb of an ambitious young woman who would—with singular and legendary focus—become one of the most powerful people in media.
As a child, Anna Wintour was a tomboy with no apparent interest in clothing but, seduced by the miniskirts and bob haircuts of swinging 1960s London, she grew into a fashion-obsessed teenager. Her father, an influential newspaper editor, loomed large in her life, and once he decided she should become editor-in-chief of Vogue, she never looked back.
Impatient to start her career, she left high school and got a job at a trendy boutique in London—an experience that would be the first of many defeats. Undeterred, she found work in the competitive world of magazines, eventually embarking on a journey to New York and a battle to ascend, no matter who or what stood in her way. Once she was crowned editor-in-chief of Vogue—in one of the stormiest transitions in fashion magazine history—she continued the fight to retain her enviable position, ultimately rising to dominate all of Condé Nast.
Based on extensive interviews with Anna Wintour’s closest friends and collaborators, including some of the biggest names in fashion, journalist Amy Odell has crafted the most revealing portrait of Wintour ever published. Weaving Anna’s personal story into a larger narrative about the hierarchical dynamics of the fashion industry and the complex world of Condé Nast, Anna charts the relentless ambition of the woman who would become an icon.
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—The New York Times
“Amy Odell’s new book is a wonderful romp through Wintour’s world: couture at its juiciest. But it is more than that: an intimate guide to how the queen of fashion built and manages her magic kingdom.”
—The Washington Post
“A dissection of one of fashion’s most controversial figures and a window into the glossy pages of Vogue, Amy Odell’s definitive Anna Wintour bio balances criticism with understanding and stories of true sadism: Imagine telling Oprah to lose 20 pounds for a cover.”
“Having interviewed over 250 sources (many of whom are unforgettable and quotable characters themselves)… Odell takes readers through Wintour's lifelong love of fashion, her personal life and romantic relationships, and, primarily, her decades-long career... While Odell's nimble writing moves at a clip, the extent and detail here make this perfect for fashion devotees and fans of publishing industry tales as Anna's career coincides with sea changes in magazine journalism.”
—Booklist, Starred review
“The secret to [Anna’s] longevity is the subject of Odell’s biography, which is drawn from interviews with Wintour’s tightknit inner circle. Given that she’s famously private and notoriously aloof, the participation of intimates in the book’s reporting indicates a green light from Wintour herself. But Odell is unsparing, detailing Wintour’s ambitious rise and ruthless power grabs, dotting the narrative with a healthy amount of gossip and color.”
“What scintillates…are the intimate details about a famously inscrutable subject…as well as the blunt treatment of Wintour’s more problematic sides…. [a] fascinating look at an enigmatic figure.”
“The most comprehensive biography of the media icon… [Anna] fascinates with Odell’s well-documented account of Wintour’s broad influence.”
Anna: The Biography pulls off a rare feat. It’s a comprehensive and balanced look at Wintour’s long, storied, and often controversial career, but it’s also a great read.
— Texas Monthly
“[A] stunningly thorough, balanced, humanizing portrait of the most powerful woman working in fashion, and one of the most powerful business leaders in America…. After speaking with over 250 sources and poring over letters and magazines, Odell gives us countless juicier, more illuminating details to gobble up.”
“A highly detailed and revelatory portrait of a very private figure.”
“A fascinating portrait of the secretive queen of fashion. The devil is in the detail.”
–Andrew Morton, New York Times bestselling author of Diana: Her True Story
“The details of Anna Wintour’s life have been kept as tantalizingly hidden as her eyes behind her trademark sunglasses. This book tells her stunning story. Extraordinarily sweeping, astute, and unputdownable.”
—Sheila Weller, New York Times bestselling author of Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge and Girls Like Us
“Anna is brilliantly written and well-researched, full of the kinds of details you've always wanted to know about Wintour's early life, and the ways in which she used her considerable gifts to amass astonishing, and enduring, power and influence.”
—Laurie Woolever, author of Bourdain, The Definitive Oral Biography
“Anna serves up Wintour A to Z, in page-turning detail. A dazzling and exhaustive deep dive into the ruthless, glittering world of fashion media and one of its most iconic empresses.”
—Lisa Napoli, Author of Susan, Linda, Nina, & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR
“Odell takes her readers behind Wintour’s iconic bob and sunglasses in this deeply researched account, delivering a close-up view of the most powerful woman in fashion.”
—Sara Gay Forden, author of House of Gucci: A True Story of Murder, Madness, Glamor and Greed
About the Author
- Publisher : Gallery Books (May 3, 2022)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1982122633
- ISBN-13 : 978-1982122638
- Item Weight : 1.45 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #25,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #27 in Journalist Biographies
- #44 in Women & Business (Books)
- #480 in Arts & Literature Biographies
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on May 5, 2022
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In terms of autobiographies, it is well written and very generous to the subject, but not overly forgiving. The writing is complex and did require me to pause to reference other books about that period at Conde Nast and draw a bit of an org chart of the publishing world in my head. (Was a big fan of Jay Fielden's T&C, loved "Save me the Plums" about Gourmet...I grew up in the heyday of loud publishing, so I often stopped to remember this world as it was).
As for the subject...Anna Wintour is a product of her time, and the first I dunno 60 or so years of her life follow the trajectory of many successful career women in her era. Well-placed, well-connected upbringing, breaking barriers in her industry, failing up, etc. We all know the 20th-century narrative. I mean despite little blip-recessions here and there, things were really great in this world between 1981 and the 2000s. The end of the Cold War! Deregulation! The Spice Girls! It was really hard not to do well when the entire world was doing well.
Things start getting dicey in 01 but really shit hit the fan in 08, and now it feels like the world is completely changed. But what was confusing is just that whole entire microcosm of publishing refused to see it coming and adapted begrudgingly.
Anna was a company woman, and Si Newhouse was like the Jack Welch of Magazines. He grew his business through acquisition and product development. It seemed that before the crash, Conde Nast had like 4 home magazines, 7 fashion ones, 3 men's, and so on. It was cannibalizing its own readership and ad sales! Anna, too, seemed to not understand segment marketing. The book recounts an interview she had about Men's Vogue in which that target market seemed to be, I dunno, everyone who was a man and maybe women, too? She really wanted to be appealing and inclusive to almost everyone but at the same time kind of missed the mark on ...marketing.
I also knew from "Save the Plums" that Conde Nast was terrible at the internet, but this new biography also confirmed it. It was like instead of simply looking outside their building and asking how to make money on the internet, they just kept stumbling around creating these properties that had nothing to do with their core brand and trying to consolidate intellectual property over advertisable content.
While this is all happening, she did a really really good job of failing to see colonial mindsets or insensitive tropes in what was being produced...She like totally missed the Harvey Weinstein thing! In her focus on her "vision", she actually was blind to many things in the overall cultural narrative, and she probably propagated some really bad ideas. I dunno... she eventually comes around in like last year (2021) when the book ends...
The thing that is so frustrating is instead of creating her own elegant exit, as many of her compatriots have (I love reading airmail!), she continues to try to push her vision, which is just not really reflecting the world in which we live nor is it reflecting the world in which we aspire to live.
4 stars for the writing. "Grace" was still a much more captivating read.
However, this book does focus in on Anna as the individual she is - bringing her human side to light. It seems to be close enough to the truth that it is worth the read. The writer does not veer off into the supermodel craze, Madonna’s song ‘Vogue’, nor does she go into too many cultural shifts along the way, what is said concerning culture and Anna’s stance on it is brief and seemingly irrelevant.
This is a book about Anna’s evolution in the fashion world, a feat that has made her the powerhouse she is.
She’s been editor of Vogue for 25 years, and in addition, she’s high up in the grander Condé Nast empire. She’s been employed by other magazines on her way up to publishing pinnacle, Vogue editor.
Amy Odell has written a good, serviceable biography of Wintour. I’m not sure if it is an “authorized” bio but I think Anna Wintour offered the cooperation of people close to her to Odell. This is important because Wintour is famously a private person. Much of the info within the book has been gathered from other sources, other interviews, other memoirs…. For instance, Odell takes much from Andre Leon Talley and his second memoir, “The Chiffon Chronicles” (which is also worth reading). Other friends and detractors also contribute.
Getting back to reading a biography; a book can be written as either “pro” or “con” towards the subject. This is particularly true of bios of the Royal Family, which in particular, are examples of the “pro” Charles or “pro” Diana, “pro” Meghan or “pro” The Queen. Those bios tend to be quite boring after a while because they are so relentlessly…biased.
But Amy Odell’s bio is written pretty much straight down the line. I honestly couldn’t tell how Odell felt about either the fashion world, in general or about Anna Wintour, in particular. And that ambiguous writing style is a boon to the reader, who doesn’t feel the need to mentally defend or castigate the book’s subject.
It’s a good book and there are pictures in the back. If you like fashion, you’ll probably like this book.
Top reviews from other countries
Struggling to finish this (33% of the way through this book), I feel nothing toward any characters (if you can even call them that) but mild disgust.
I have no specific interest in Anna Wintour, but love well written biographies about interesting people. This proved to be neither.