December 18, 2011 |
First impressions last. So some people still think of Amazon.com as an online bookseller, the form in which it arrived on consumers' horizons in the late 1990s. But since then Amazon has been acquiring, expanding and diversifying at a dizzying speed. Jeff Bezos, its founder, chief executive and the owner of a wall-shaking laugh, has taken the company into shoes, diapers and flat-screen televisions, as well as cloud computing services and e-readers via its Kindle device. Amazon's non-retail dexterity reached a new level last month when the Seattle-based company unveiled a Kindle-branded tablet computer, the Fire, to rival Apple's iPad.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 3, 2011 |
Thanks to the conveniences of the wired world, Peter Winkler was able to write a book and find an agent and a publisher without ever having to leave his North Hollywood home. Winkler raced to produce the first biography of Dennis Hopper to come out after the actor died in May 2010. It was only when the book was on the shelves that his agent learned how he had done it. "My God, I had no idea," said Robert Diforio of Weston, Conn., who sold "Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel" to a small East Coast publisher, Barricade Books.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 27, 2011 |
To organize his research on the Watts riots, journalist Robert E. Conot sketched out the hour-by-hour progress of events in 1965 on a 25-foot-long stretch of paper, then dressed the diagram in the exhaustive detail for which he became known. The timeline helped him write "Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness," a 1967 study of the smoldering unrest behind the riots. Based on his eyewitness account and extensive interviews, the book was called "brilliant" by Times reviewers. In 1969, one of them wrote: "With honesty and soul," he revealed the "real, ordinary" people of the "ghetto.
November 20, 2011
Reading anything by or about Charles Dickens is a year-round pleasure for many readers, but it's especially difficult not to associate him and his world with the holidays thanks to "A Christmas Carol. " In Claire Tomalin's new biography, "Charles Dickens: A Life," the author (whose other books include lives of Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen) suggests, in the following excerpt adapted from "Prologue: The Inimitable 1840," why Dickens the man - not just his books - presents such a feast for any biographer.
November 16, 2011 |
When ABC Sports guru Roone Arledge was suggesting Howard Cosell for "Monday Night Football," NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle replied: "Cosell? Why don't you just dig up Attila the Hun?" Such was the reaction generated by modern broadcasting's first Category 5 hurricane: How-wuuuud Co-sellll. The way he pronounced his own name dripped with chutzpah and self-promotion. In his day, Cosell may have been the most mocked man in America. If the very memory of his nasal delivery is a form of aural torture, this book may not be for you. But if you remember Cosell as some sort of broadcasting pioneer, brave and occasionally brilliant, Mark Ribowsky's new tome is worth your time.
October 22, 2011 |
A new biography of Steve Jobs is revealing new details of the Apple Inc. co-founder's youth, his battle with cancer, his relationship with his biological parents and his unvarnished feelings about his rivals at Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Scheduled for release Monday, "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson is the result of more than 40 interviews with Jobs by the author over a period of years, including one just weeks before his death two weeks ago. Jobs regretted waiting nine months to have an operation to remove cancer from his pancreas, the book reveals, a delay that probably allowed the cancer to spread.
October 14, 2011 |
The densely packed, questioning documentary "The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby" is a remarkable feat of personalized biography. Like a case officer parsing more than just facts, filmmaker Carl Colby delves into the story of his late dad's intelligence career — World War II O.S.S. operative, stealth campaigner against Italian Communists, controversial Vietnam War strategist and finally secret-spilling CIA director during legendary 1970s congressional hearings — with a respectful yet keen eye toward the moral pitfalls of patriotic duplicity.
September 4, 2011
The lives of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edith Wharton and Emily Dickinson are explored in biographies including: "Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay," Nancy Milford, Random House, 2001. "What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay," Daniel Mark Epstein, Henry Holt & Co., 2001. "Edith Wharton," Hermione Lee, Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. "Edith Wharton: A Biography," R.W.B. Lewis, Fromm International, 1993. "Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds," Lyndall Gordon, Viking, 2010.
September 4, 2011 |
Ethan Allen His Life and Times Willard Sterne Randall W.W. Norton: 619 pp., $35 As any student of Vermont history can tell you - and the recent flood devastation in that state underscores all too well - water has played a huge role in shaping what would become the 14th state to join the Union. The Connecticut River forms Vermont's eastern border with New Hampshire, and Lake Champlain forms the majority of the state's western border with New York. But the boundary lines of current-day Vermont were hardly the result of riparian randomness: The future state was carved out of competing colonial claims asserted by New York and New Hampshire, and if there were a single individual who was as much a force of nature as the waters themselves at shaping the Green Mountain State, most historians would agree it was Ethan Allen.
September 4, 2011 |
Wendy and the Lost Boys The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein Julie Salamon Penguin Press: 461 pp., $29.95 Along with their crackling urban wit, Wendy Wasserstein's plays are notable for their introspective candor about the plight of certain well-educated baby boomer women - "uncommon women," to borrow the phrase from her breakthrough drama "Uncommon Women and Others" - trying to reconcile professional ambitions with personal...