Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Biography

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Biography

Article excerpt

Biographers came through with well-researched, well-written lives throughout 1995. Here are some of the best:

Irving Berlin: A Daughter's Memoir, by Mary Ellin Barrett (Simon and Schuster, 320 pages, $23), is an affectionate biography of the man who wrote so many songs. From "Alexander's Ragtime Band" to "There's No Business Like Show Business," with stops at "Easter Parade" and "White Christmas," every page is a hit. Reviewed by Jules Wagman

A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr (500 pages, Random House, $25). Not marketed as a biography, the book -- maybe the best nonfiction work of the year -- is actually the biography of a long-running lawsuit as well as the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs. Harr spent eight years following Jan Schlichtmann, lead counsel for eight families in Woburn, Mass., whose members (mostly children), developed leukemia. Their common denominator: foul-tasting water from two city wells. This is immersion journalism at its best -- a chronicle of an important public-policy issue that concentrates on the human element. The prose is always clear and often reaches the level of memorable. Reviewed by Steve Weinberg

Patton: A Genius for War, by Carlo D'Este (624 pages, HarperCollins, $30). A half-century past his death, George S. Patton Jr. continues to fascinate us. D'Este, his latest biographer, offers a balanced account of the brilliant general but flawed human.

Churchill: The Unruly Giant, by Norman Rose (424 pages, Free Press, $25). More warts turn up in this portrayal of Britain's wartime leader, Winston Churchill, as a man who insisted on taking life on his own terms -- for better or, at times, for worse. Reviewed by Harry Levins

Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel, by Judith and Neil Morgan (Random House, 346 pages, $25), is an interesting biography of one of the most beloved children's authors of this century. It's mind-blowing to realize that "Green Eggs and Ham," uses only 50 different words. Reviewed by Jules Wagman

Genius in Disguise: Harold Ross of the New Yorker, by Thomas Kunkel (497 pages, Random House, $25). …

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