Groucho Marx: The Comedy of Existence by Lee Siegel

Groucho Marx: The Comedy of Existence by Lee Siegel

Born Julius Marx in 1890, the brilliant comic actor who would later be known as Groucho was the most verbal of the famed comedy team, the Marx Brothers, his broad slapstick portrayals elevated by ingenious wordplay and double entendre. In his spirited biography of this beloved American iconoclast, Lee Siegel views the life of Groucho through the lens of his work on stage, screen, and television. The author uncovers the…

The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir by Vivian Gornick

The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir by Vivian Gornick

A memoir of self-discovery and the dilemma of connection in our time, The Odd Woman and the City explores the rhythms, chance encounters, and ever-changing friendships of urban life that forge the sensibility of a fiercely independent woman who has lived out her conflicts, not her fantasies, in a city (New York) that has done the same. Running steadily through the book is Vivian Gornick’s exchange of more than twenty…

Einstein: His Space and Times by Steven Gimbel

Einstein: His Space and Times by Steven Gimbel

Even Einstein Was Not Immune to Academic Jockeying An excerpt from Steven Gimbel’s new biography of the great scientist follows his quest for a permanent position, through Zurich after 1909 Between the correspondences, visits, and other professional attention he and his work were receiving, and because he’d been publishing numerous reviews and other articles, Einstein felt himself becoming more and more a part of the scientific community, even if he…

Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel by Annie Cohen-Solal

Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel by Annie Cohen-Solal

Why Mark Rothko Dropped Out of Yale An excerpt from Annie Cohen-Solal’s new biography of one of the most influential American painters of the 20th century How could a young man of 18 years—the image of a 1920s intellectual, with a high forehead, an intense gaze behind round glasses, and a combed-back mass of wavy black hair—who entered with such enthusiasm into Yale, this temple of knowledge, so severely flounder…

Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way by Hasia R. Diner

Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way by Hasia R. Diner

The book at Amazon and on Kindle Between the late 1700s and the 1920s, nearly one-third of the world’s Jews emigrated to new lands. Crossing borders and often oceans, they followed paths paved by intrepid peddlers who preceded them. This book is the first to tell the remarkable story of the Jewish men who put packs on their backs and traveled forth, house to house, farm to farm, mining camp…

Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician by Allen Shawn

Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician by Allen Shawn

The book at Amazon and on Kindle In writing the text for I Hate Music in 1943, Bernstein had not only imagined a child’s impressions of concerts. He had also expressed some of his own impatience with the way classical music was presented and perceived. In his Young People’s Concerts in Carnegie Hall he was able to address children as an idealized father figure or older brother, while also communicating…

Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst by Adam Phillips

Becoming Freud is the story of the young Freud—Freud up until the age of fifty—that incorporates all of Freud’s many misgivings about the art of biography. Freud invented a psychological treatment that involved the telling and revising of life stories, but he was himself skeptical of the writing of such stories. In this biography, Adam Phillips, whom the New Yorkercalls “Britain’s foremost psychoanalytical writer,” emphasizes the largely and inevitably undocumented story of…

Exit Berlin: How One Woman Saved Her Family from Nazi Germany by Charlotte R. Bonelli

Just a week after the Kristallnacht terror in 1938, young Luzie Hatch, a German Jew, fled Berlin to resettle in New York. Her rescuer was an American-born cousin and industrialist, Arnold Hatch. Arnold spoke no German, so Luzie quickly became translator, intermediary, and advocate for family left behind. Soon an unending stream of desperate requests from German relatives made their way to Arnold’s desk. Luzie Hatch had faithfully preserved her…

Jabotinsky: A Life by Hillel Halkin

Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880–1940) was a man of huge paradoxes and contradictions and has been the most misunderstood of all Zionist politicians—a first-rate novelist, a celebrated Russian journalist, and the founder of the branch of Zionism now headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. This biography, the first in English in nearly two decades, undertakes to answer central questions about Jabotinsky as a writer, a political thinker, and a leader. Hillel Halkin sets aside…