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Old 06-02-2012, 07:38 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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The topic didn't seem to quite fit into anywhere. I didn't put it into 'celebs', because I wanted to include biographies of people who aren't that famous but have had an interesting experience, although related to books/literature it doesn't really fit into 'writing' because it's not about writing or the book. It's about how interesting you personally find the LIFE of that person, although a biography can make someone's life sound more or less interesting. It isn't history because it can include people who are still living.

So yeah, which person's life as captivated you, intrigued you, baffled you, shocked, horrified or inspired you the most?

While I haven't actually read any full-length biographies of many people (most musicians)...mine would be the unusual choice of a young gentleman from Sheffield, England called Joseph (incorrectly known as 'John' in the 1981 movie) Merrick, better known as the 'Elephant Man' for his physical deformities. The book was 'The True History of the Elephant Man.'

What interested me most was actually how he had such a sweet, innocent view of the world and attitude to other people, and also the fact I believe he was an extremely intelligent and gifted human being. Confined to a ward in the London Hospital, he built a scale model of a nearby Cathedral from only what he saw from his window - the model was amazing, it literally looked almost like the real thing. How he did it I don't know.

He overcame so much human cruelty, yet the friends he did have he treated so well. How he survived for as long as he did...I don't know. His life was so poetic, his death sort of was a tragic irony. He also maintained a childlike faith in the Lord, and an idealism in human nature which was quite humbling.

I admit my initial attraction to learning about him was the 'freak show' aspect. I saw the film first, in school when I was about 16, then shortly after that read the book, which sketched out the picture. I think the film actually did a decent job of it.

The True History of the Elephant Man: The Definitive Account of the Tragic ... - Peter Ford, Michael Howell - Google Books

The person I've read the MOST biographies about was Jim Morrison. I've read 3 different biographies, and a couple on the Doors, and they pretty much say the same things. Looking back, his life wasn't all that fascinating, but he inspired me to write poetry, music, and take up an interest in drugs and mysticism. I never actually took LSD or anything, but reading about the experiences and listening to a lot of Doors and other 60s musics I did want to!
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Old 06-02-2012, 09:03 AM
 
Location: NW Indiana
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My favorite so far is an autobiography by Harpo Marx, titled, "Harpo Speaks." It was a fascinating book about Harpo (given name was Adolph) and his brothers, born in the late 1800s and raised in a dirt-poor family in NYC. Their father was an inept tailor who couldn't make enough money to feed the family, so the 5 sons had to scrap and steal their way through childhood. Behind them all was a devoted mother who was determined from the start to push her boys to learn music and acting so that they could one day be rich and famous. The journey of this family is fascinating, and Harpo's writing style is captivating. Great sense of humor, of course, but it is also poignant and sensitive.

Even if you're not a big Marx Brothers fan, as I am, I highly recommend this fascinating autobiography.

.
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Old 06-02-2012, 09:06 AM
 
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Amazon.com: The Blind Doctor: The Jacob Bolotin Story (9781883423131): Rosalind Perman: Books
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Old 06-02-2012, 09:07 AM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
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One of my all time favorites is Jack Jeffords. He was one of the original bush pilots in Alaska during the 1930's. He went on to become the chief pilot for the FAA. What pilots faced in the 1930's in Alaska was not unlike what the pioneers that settled the West in the 1800's faced. My Dad worked with Jack Jeffords so I am familiar with many of the places and airplanes mentioned in his biography. His autobiography "Winging It" is a collection of some of the many events in his career.
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Old 06-02-2012, 12:31 PM
 
Location: The Circle City. Sometimes NE of Bagdad.
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Nikola Telsa, The Man That Lit The World.

Tesla's Biography
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Old 06-02-2012, 02:45 PM
 
Location: NW Indiana
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My sister recently read Eric Clapton's autobiography and she said it was excellent. It's on my must-read-when-I-find-the-time list.

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Old 06-03-2012, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Neither here nor there
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I've read many biographies--biography and memoirs is my favorite literary genre. My list is near endless but here are a few of them I remember, off hand.

"My Several Worlds" - the autobiography of Pearl S. Buck

"The Small Woman" - a biography of Gladys Aylward. Made into the movie "Inn Of The Sixth Happiness" starring Ingrid Bergman.

"The Nun's Story" - a biography of the Belgian nun, Sister Luke, (Marie Habets). Made into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn.

"Autobiography of William Allen White", an early 20th century newspaper publisher in Kansas. He was well-connected with many of the world power figures of his time.
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Old 06-03-2012, 12:11 PM
 
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I have two, and they are about as far apart on the spectrum as you can get in terms of people and writing.

No Regrets, Ace Frehley's autobiography. There wasn't a whole lot of nastiness and dirt, unlike the books Gene Simmons wrote. Some people were disappointed in that, but I much preferred the story of Frehley's early years, his ups and downs, the insanity of touring and the band's output in the mid-70s, and the techniques rockers used when recording before everything went electronic, like playing in stairwells, etc.

The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth Century Venice, by Margaret F. Rosenthal. The move Dangerous Beauty was based on the book and Franco's life. Back then, noble women were kept locked away, sheltered from news, literature, and anything that could broaden their minds--unless they were courtesans. Courtesans had access to libraries, were learned in multiple languages, and knew the inner workings of government and politics. Plus, she wrote beautiful poetry.

Also, I hear you on Jim Morrison. I'm a big fan of his, and I have The Jim Morrison Scrapbook. It's neat.
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:24 PM
 
Location: Coastal North Carolina
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Just Kids by Patti Smith. It is an absolutely beautiful book, about her friendship with photographer and artist Robert Mapplethorpe. It's one of my favorite books, period.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:10 AM
 
Location: bucks county, PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJSinger View Post
My sister recently read Eric Clapton's autobiography and she said it was excellent. It's on my must-read-when-I-find-the-time list.

.
I agree, it was a great read. My favorite would probably be Rudy Giulianis book, it was a first hand insider account of 9/11 and its aftermath in NYC.
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