Reinventing Richard Nixon: A Cultural History of an American Obsession- Episode 26 of The Biography Podcast

Richard Nixon was the first President that I remember and I still have fairly vivid memories of being the living room of my grandparent's living room in the summer of 1974, as the Watergate hearings were at their zenith. I didn't understand what was going on exactly, but it was obviously something important. Nixon, to me anyway, may be the most interesting man to ever hold the office of President, but I always felt that I had an insufficient background to his story. Which is why I was...

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A Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton as Told by Those Who Know Him- Episode 25 of The Biography Podcast

There was almost a year gap between Episodes 24 and 25- I was producing a lot of shows back then and something had to give. It was this show. I had a little slack time in 4 Q in 2010, so I prepped a few shows. I was fresh out of college when Bill Clinton became the 42nd President of the United States. At the time, I was a big fan, but age and time has altered my views about him. Still, he is an utterly fascinating man and I was excited when I had an opportunity to speak to one of his...

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Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend- Episode 24 of The Biography Podcast

Episode 24 focused on number 24, the Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays, who, by sheer coincidence, is one of my favorite athletes of all time. I did not envy his biographer, James Hirsch; Willie is well known for being a very private person and he shuns most interviews, so it is a testimony to his skills as a biographer that Hirsch was able to draw such a compelling portrait of a man beloved by an entire generation of baseball fans. So, from February 20, 2010, James Hirsch talking about his book,...

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The Virgin Warrior: The Life and Death of Joan of Arc- Episode 23 of The Biography Podcast

Was Joan of Arc crazy or a saint? I don't suppose we will ever have a definitive answer, but in the book, The Virgin Warrior; The Life and Death of Joan of Arc, Larissa Juliet Taylor examines the evidence to tell Joan's life story. She led a country to greatness, but paid the ultimate price. So, from January 15, 2010, Larissa Taylor on Joan of Arc.

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Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age- Episode 22 of The Biography Podcast

Here I return to a more familiar topic; a person worthy of biography who is not well known outside their circle. When this book came out in 2009, Grace Hopper was not well known outside the realm of computer science, but there she is rightly regarded as one of the true pioneers of the age. Kurt Beyer did her a great justice by writing this book, if only because it introduced her story to a wider readership and, in my opinion, led to her greater noteriety in the in last few years. So, from...

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Paul McCartney: A Life- Episode 21 of The Biography Podcast

Yet another episode done in studio, as Peter Ames Carlin is another local and former writer with the Oregonian- they had quite a collection of writers back when people read newspapers. His subject this time is the musician Paul McCartney and Carlin does his best to bring new insight into the Beatle who did the most to transcend his time in the band, while still being considered by many to be the archetypal Beatle. So from December 15, 2009, Peter Ames Carlin talking about his book,...

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Cheerful Money: Me, My Family and the Last Days of WASP Splendor- Episode 20 of The Biography Podcast

Tad Friend's Cheerful Money is a memoir of his life and a bit of a family history. It looks at an arguably dying subculture in the United States, the WASP aristocracy, better known as the people who used to run the United States and are occasionally lionized on the editorial pages of the New York Times. The real joy of the book is that Friend is such an exemplary writer that he brings a lovely light touch to a somewhat elegiac topic. And so, from November 30, 2009, Tad Friend on his...

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High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly- Episode 19 of The Biography Podcast

Ah yes. Grace Kelly. Of all the shows I have done, this one came closest to being on the bubble. Donald Spoto is a well known Hollywood biographer and actually, that should have been a strike against doing the book. And I say that because the show has tried to tilt towards unique subjects and Grace Kelly had been written about already. Still, I was interested to see what a show with a well known Hollywood biographer would be like, a lesson I tried again- with arguably more success- in 2017....

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Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and The American Right: Episode 18 of The Biography Podcast

This was a notable show for me. Before I started to do a show on biography, I had for many years done a show on buisness books called The Invisible Hand. I had quite a few listeners who spoke extremely highly of the author Ayn Rand and though I am not a fan of either her writing or philosophy, this book allowed me to do one book for both shows. The shows are somewhat different; in the Hand, I spend more time teasing out the implications of Rand's worldview. In this interview, I spend more...

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Dorothea Lange: A Life Without Limits- Episode 17 of The Biography Podcast

So many people know the work of photographer Dorothea Lange, but few know the story of her life. In her biography of Lange, Linda Gordon breaks apart not only her life, but also tells the stories of some of her most famous photographs. So, from October 15, 2009, Linda Gordon on her book, Dorothea Lange: A Life Without Limits.

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