biography

  George W. Bush, the forty-third president of the United States, almost singlehandedly decided to invade Iraq. It was possibly the worst foreign-policy decision ever made by a president. The consequences dominated the Bush Administration and still haunt us today.

In Bush, Jean Edward Smith, demonstrates that it was not Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, or Condoleezza Rice, but President Bush himself who took personal control of foreign policy.

  Mark Zwonitzer is an author and award-winning documentary filmmaker. 

His new book The Statesman and the Storyteller, is a dual biography covering the last ten years of the lives of friends and contemporaries, writer Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and statesman John Hay (who served as secretary of state under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt), The Statesman and the Storyteller not only provides an intimate look into the daily lives of these men but also creates an elucidating portrait of the United States on the verge of emerging as a world power.

  In the summer of 1925, The New Yorker was struggling to survive its first year in print. They took a chance on a young cartoonist who was about to give up his career as an artist. His name was Peter Arno, and his witty social commentary, blush-inducing content, and compositional mastery brought a cosmopolitan edge to the magazine’s pages—a vitality that would soon cement The New Yorker as one of the world’s most celebrated publications.

Alongside New Yorker luminaries such as E.B. White, James Thurber, and founding editor Harold Ross, Arno is one of the select few who made the magazine the cultural touchstone it is today.

In his new biography of one of The New Yorker’s first geniuses, New Yorker cartoonist Michael Maslin dives into Arno’s rocky relationship with the magazine, his fiery marriage to the columnist Lois Long, and his tabloid-cover altercations involving pistols, fists, and barely-legal debutantes.

Michael Maslin’s cartoons have been appearing in The New Yorker for nearly forty years. He is the author or coauthor of eight books of cartoons. His new biography is: Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist.

  Charlotte Brontë famously lived her entire life in an isolated parsonage on a remote English moor with a demanding father and siblings whose astonishing childhood creativity was a closely held secret.

Drawing on letters unavailable to previous biographers, Harman depicts Charlotte’s inner life with absorbing, almost novelistic intensity in her new book, Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart.

  The Olana Partnership is presenting an illustrated lecture and book signing with acclaimed author Andrea Wulf at Hudson High School on Saturday, April 9 at 4pm. The event will be Wulf’s first East Coast stop on her United States and UK tour.

The Invention of Nature is Andrea Wulf’s newest her award winning biography that reveals the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt and how he created the way we understand nature today.

Perceiving nature as an interconnected global force, he turned scientific observation into poetic narrative, and inspired Frederic Church on numerous levels. Andrea Wulf joins us to talk about the book and her upcoming event.

  More than a century has passed since Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House, but he still continues to fascinate. Never has a more exuberant man been our nation's leader. He became a war hero, reformed the NYPD, busted the largest railroad and oil trusts, passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, created national parks and forests, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and built the Panama Canal―to name just a few.

Yet it was the cause he championed the hardest―America's entry in to WWI―that would ultimately divide and destroy him. His youngest son, Quentin, his favorite, would die in an air fight. How does looking at Theodore's relationship with his son, and understanding him as a father, tell us something new about this larger-than-life-man?

Eric Burns explores the story and relationship in his book, The Golden Lad: The Haunting Story of Quentin and Theodore Roosevelt.

  On the centennial of his birth, the defining wunderkind of modern entertainment  -- Orson Welles -- gets his due in Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane Hardcover by Patrick McGilligan.

In the history of American popular culture, there is no more dramatic story—no swifter or loftier ascent to the pinnacle of success and no more tragic downfall—than that of Orson Welles. The tales of his youthful achievements were so colorful and improbable that Welles, with his air of mischief, was often thought to have made them up.

McGilligan sorts out fact from fiction and reveals untold, fully documented anecdotes of Welles’s first exploits and triumphs.

  In Huck Finn’s America, award-winning biographer Andrew Levy shows how modern readers have been misunderstanding Huckleberry Finn for decades.

Twain’s masterpiece, which still sells tens of thousands of copies each year and is taught more than any other American classic, is often discussed either as a carefree adventure story for children or a serious novel about race relations, yet Levy argues convincingly it is neither.

  Andy Griffith and Don Knotts met on Broadway in the 1950s. When Andy went to Hollywood to film a TV pilot about a small-town sheriff, Don called to ask if the sheriff could use a deputy. The comedic synergy between Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife ignited The Andy Griffith Show, elevating a folksy sitcom into a timeless study of human friendship, as potent off the screen as on.

Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show is a new book written by Don Knotts’s brother-in-law and featuring extensive unpublished interviews with those closest to both men.

  From the time he took up the game of football Joe Montana has been initially been overlooked, not blessed with the prototypical size for a quarter back his skill and understanding of the nuances of the game overcame any perceived shortcomings. In his new biography of the Hall of Famer, Montana: The Biography Of Football's Joe Cool author Keith Dunnavant follows the life and career of one the game's all time greats.

Joe Montana is one of the only three quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls and did so in less than a decade, a two time league MVP, he became the signature player of the NFL landscape throughout the 1980's.

  In his new book, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, Jon Meacham, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author, chronicles the life of George Herbert Walker Bush.

He draws on President Bush’s personal diaries, on the diaries of his wife, Barbara, and on extraordinary access to the forty-first president and his family. Meacham paints an intimate and surprising portrait of an intensely private man who led the nation through tumultuous times.

In his new book The Age of Clinton: America In The 1990s, historian Gil Troy, asks us to look past our prejudices about William Jefferson Clinton's Presidency and instead focus on the way in which his time in office shaped the culture of the 1990's. The book also of course sheds light on Hillary Clinton's Political career as we approach the 2016 Presidential Election.

TRUMBO

Nov 25, 2015

  Dalton Trumbo was the central figure in the "Hollywood Ten," the blacklisted and jailed screenwriters. One of several hundred writers, directors, producers, and actors who were deprived of the opportunity to work in the motion picture industry from 1947 to 1960, he was the first to see his name on the screen again. When that happened, it was Exodus, one of the year's biggest movies.

Bruce Cook wrote a biography of Dalton Trumbo and there is now a feature film based on the book. We speak with Cook's widow, Judith Aller.

Of all the grunge bands to emerge from the fertile Seattle scene about 25 years ago, Alice in Chains stood out for its mix of hard-driving rock and affecting harmonies. Despite Nirvana’s reputation as a groundbreaker, it was Alice in Chains that was the first to go national.

As it often does in music, however, success brought problems: drugs, canceled tours, and tragic deaths. All of this makes for compelling reading in the first proper biography of the band, Alice in Chains: The Untold Story, by David de Sola, who also charts the group’s unexpected resurgence over the past decade.

Ginger Strand will talk about her new book The Brothers Vonnegut, a biography of major American author Kurt Vonnegut and his brother Bernard Vonnegut, a research scientist at General Electric in Schenectady and long-time professor of Atmospheric Science at the University at Albany.

Strand will present a talk about the book as the keynote lecture of the Researching New York Conference, at 7:30 tonight in the Clark Auditorium of the NYS Museum in downtown Albany.

In March 2000, just days after a highly anticipated successful gallery showing the acclaimed, Mark Lombardi, was found hanged in his Williamsburg apartment; it was immediately ruled as suicide, but the mysterious circumstances to his death following the recent onslaught of public attention towards his controversial art lead some people to question if his death was suicide or murder. 

Patricia Goldstone's Interlock: Art, Conspiracy, and the Shadow Worlds of Mark Lombardi is a comprehensive biography that explores Lombardi's life, his death, and his lasting impact on the art and technology community. 

In the new book, Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, historian Kate Clifford Larson reveals the what Kennedy matriarch, Rose Kennedy called "the first Kennedy tragedy."A tragedy that in fact lead the family to one of its greatest missions. The only biography to view the family to through the lens of its little known daughter Rosemary opens an extraordinary new window to America's most famous dynasty.  

Joe and Rose Kennedy's beautiful daughter Rosemary attended the most prestigious schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high spirited sisters, yet Rosemary was intellectually disabled. A secret guarded by her powerful and glamorous family out of fear that it would  threaten family aspirations. 

  Coming up on this week’s Book Show - Joe Donahue speaks with Pulitzer Prize–winning architectural critic Paul Goldberger about the life and work of the most famous architect of our time Frank Gehry.

Goldberger's book is Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry.

  Raised like a princess in one of the most powerful families in the American South, Henrietta Bingham was offered the helm of a publishing empire. Instead, she ripped through the Jazz Age like an F. Scott Fitzgerald character: intoxicating and intoxicated, selfish and shameless, seductive and brilliant, endearing and often terribly troubled.

In New York, Louisville, and London, she drove both men and women wild with desire, and her youth blazed with sex. But her love affairs with women made her the subject of derision and caused a doctor to try to cure her queerness. After the speed and pleasure of her early days, the toxicity of judgment from others coupled with her own anxieties resulted in years of addiction and breakdowns.

Emily Bingham, the great-niece of Henrietta Bingham, writes about her life in Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham.

  What drove a painfully shy outcast in elite Washington society—a man so self-conscious he refused to make eye contact during meetings—to pursue power and public office? How did a president so attuned to the American political id that he won reelection in a historic landslide lack the self-awareness to recognize the gaping character flaws that would drive him from office and forever taint his legacy?

In Being Nixon, Evan Thomas peels away the layers of the complex, confounding figure who became America’s thirty-seventh president.

  John Cage was a composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. He was a pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments. Author and Photographer James Klosty joins us to talk about his new book, John Cage Was.

The book combines iconic photographs of Cage by James with testimony the author commissioned from people the world over, each asked to contribute their thoughts on Cage’s influence on their lives and work with one-hundred-word statements.

Gene Simmons

Mar 31, 2015

  Known as rock's ultimate showman, Gene Simmons founded the hard rock supergroup KISS in the early 1970s. Since then, KISS has sold more than 100 million albums and performed more than two thousand shows around the world, and is still touring today.

Simmons has also sold roughly one billion dollars’ worth of merchandise, including his bestselling books, KISS and Make-Up and Me, Inc. Now, Christina Vitagliano pays homage to rock’s living legend in the new book: Gene Simmons Is a Powerful and Attractive Man: And Other Irrefutable Facts. Based on a phrase Gene himself uses, this book is fully authorized by Gene, who also contributed the foreword and is even going on radio shows to promote it.

  Nearly twenty-five years ago, Nicholson Baker published U and I, the fretful and handwringing—but also groundbreaking—tale of his literary relationship with John Updike.

U and I inspired a whole sub-genre of engaging, entertaining writing about reading, but what no story of this type has ever done is tell its tale from the moment of conception, that moment when you realize that there is a writer out there in the world that you must read—so you read them.

B & Me is that story, the story of J.C. Hallman discovering and reading Nicholson Baker, and discovering himself in the process.

3/23/15 Panel

Mar 23, 2015

   The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, SUNY at Albany journalism professor and investigative journalist, Rosemary Armao, and political consultant, Libby Post.

Scheduled topics include: IS Military Threat, Ted Cruz announces Presidential run, Governor Andrew Cuomo's biography by Michael Shnayerson, NCAA Sweet 16.

  On June 29, 1978, Bob Crane, known to Hogan's Heroes fans as Colonel Hogan, was discovered brutally murdered in his Scottsdale, Arizona apartment. His eldest son, Robert Crane, was called to the crime scene. In his new memoir, Crane discusses that terrible day and how he has lived with the unsolved murder of his father.

But this storyline is just one thread in his tale of growing up in Los Angeles, his struggles to reconcile the good and sordid sides of his celebrity father, and his own fascinating life.

As a result of a raucous encounter with the cast of Canada's SCTV, he found himself shelving his notepad and tape recorder to enter the employ of John Candy -- first as an on-again, off-again publicist; then as a full-time assistant, confidant, screenwriter, and producer; and finally as one of Candy's pallbearers.

His new book is: Crane: Sex, Celebrity, and My Father's Unsolved Murder.

  Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. He was one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence. But he was also a lawyer and an ambassador, an inventor and a scientist. He had a wide range of interests and hobbies, but his consuming interest was the survival and success of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson: President and Philosopher is an illustrated edition of the #1 New York Times bestselling Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham. The book intends to teach young readers about the life and political philosophy of one of our Founding Fathers.

    The film, Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie opened last week. It is based on the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand. We spoke with her about the book and its subject, World War II hero, Louis Zamperini, when the book came out in 2010.

    

    In Timeless, a literary memoir, Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, tells the intimate story of her marriage to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, one of the great men of our time.

   Historian and biographer Richard Norton Smith is in our region talking about his new book, On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller. Fourteen years in the writing, the book is being hailed as the definitive biography of the New York governor and U.S. vice president.

Historian Douglas Brinkley described the book as, “one of the greatest cradle-to-grave biographies written in the past fifty years.”

The New York State Writers Institute presents a conversation with Richard Norton Smith at 4:15 this afternoon in the Standish Room in the Science Library at SUNY Albany, and Smith will be speaking tonight at 7:30 about his biography at Page Hall on SUNY Albany’s Downtown Campus at 8PM.

  Author of the bestseller This Town, Mark Leibovich returns with a collection of portraits of Washington’s elite, and wannabe elites in his new book, Citizens of the Green Room.

Hailed by The Washington Post as a “master of the political profile,” Leibovich has spent his career writing memorable and buzz-worthy features about politicians and other notables.

Currently chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, Leibovich punctures the inflated personas of the powerful, and in, he reveals the lives, stories, and peculiarities behind the public masks.

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