Saturday, August 16, 2008

Katie's New Eminent Lives Challenge

So, I got this wild idea that I am going to read all the books in the Eminent Lives series. If you have not heard about this series, it's published by Atlas Books (an imprint of Harper Collins) and edited by James Atlas (hence the imprint's name). The description of this contemporary series of biographies states that Eminent Lives is "a series of brief biographies by distinguished authors on canonical figures." Here's what I like about this series:
  • one word - BRIEF!
  • the subjects are interesting, but not necessarily someone you would have read about in-depth unless you are a specialist (Caravaggio and George Balanchine spring to mind).
  • interesting authors have written these brief bios - Bill Bryson on Shakespeare, Michael Korda on Ulysses S. Grant, and Karen Armstrong on Muhammad.
So, I am starting with Bryson's Shakespeare, which comes in at a whopping 200 pages (yes, I am being sarcastic) compare that to Greenblatt's triumphant Will In The World at 433 pages or Ackroyd's biography which weighs in at 500+ pages. In 200 pages you will be entertained and bewitched (as if you were to read the Bard himself)!

So, let me know if you will be taking the challenge with me! I am posting a list of all the titles in the Eminent Lives Series. Those with a hyperlink are already owned by a Jefferson County Library. Those without are on order. Let me know which one you are going to start with and let's learn something new!

Michael Korda on Ulysses S. Grant

Robert Gottlieb on George Balanchine

Christopher Hitchens on Thomas Jefferson

Paul Johnson on George Washington

Francince Prose on Caravaggio

Edmund Morris on Beethoven

Matt Ridley on Francis Crick

Karen Armstrong on Muhammed

Peter Kramer on Freud

Joseph Epstein on Alexis de Tocqueville

Ross King on Machiavelli

Bill Bryson on William Shakespeare

-katie m.


Jenne said...

Bill Bryson's Shakespeare is excellent, esp. the audiobook. Bryson is a really good reader. I learn a lot about the culture and history of the time from this book too. Happy reading!

Jenne J

About EOL said...

I requested Freud: Inventor of the Modern Mind by Peter Kramer. I'll let you know how it goes!