J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography – Review

Perpetually Past Due

J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter

Published in 1977

Pages: 287

Genre: Non-fiction, biography

“It is mid-morning on a spring day in 1967.”

So begins Humphrey Carpenter’s J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography, a look at the man behind one of the most popular fantasy series ever written. What follows is an in-depth study of Tolkien’s life from his birth in South Africa to his death in his beloved English countryside. J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography gives an extraordinary amount of context that explains not only the style in which Tolkien’s stories were written, but the genesis of a brilliant man and the beliefs that shaped him.

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Louis Armstrong – Review

Louis Armstrong by Hugues Panassié

Photograph collection b Jack Bradley

Published in 1971

Pages: 148

Genre: Biography, nonfiction, music criticism

“The New Year was being celebrated in New Orleans.”

If you are from my generation or younger, you may be familiar with the gritty voice singing “What a Wonderful World,” but Louis Armstrong was most famous as a jazz musician; his playing takes center stage in Louis Armstrong by French music critic Hugues Panassié. Split into three sections, the book gives an account of “Satchmo” and his career blowing people’s minds with his unique trumpet playing.  Assuming they already know much of his life story, Louis Armstrong is a great addition to any fan’s bookshelf. Continue reading “Louis Armstrong – Review”

J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography – Review

J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter

Published in 1977

Pages: 287

Genre: Non-fiction, biography

“It is mid-morning on a spring day in 1967.”

So begins Humphrey Carpenter’s J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography, a look at the man behind one of the most popular fantasy series ever written. What follows is an in-depth study of Tolkien’s life from his birth in South Africa to his death in his beloved English countryside. J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography gives an extraordinary amount of context that explains not only the style in which Tolkien’s stories were written, but the genesis of a brilliant man and the beliefs that shaped him. Continue reading “J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography – Review”

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Review

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

Published in 1979, revised and updated in 2001

Pages: 780

Genre: Nonfiction, biography

“On the late afternoon of 27 October 1858, a flurry of activity disturbed the genteel quietness of East Twentieth Street, New York City.”

Theodore Roosevelt is among the most famous of American presidents for good reason. Social reform, foreign policy expertise, and his famous mustache all come to mind when thinking about the 26th president of the United States. What The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt brings to the table is the tale of his not-so-humble beginnings and how he rose above sickness, the juggernaut of machine politics, and the concerns of naysayers to be one of the most influential men of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt covers the future president’s life beginning with his birth in 1858 and ending with his ascent to the Vice Presidency in 1901. In 780 pages, we see the asthmatic boy who would be president grow not only physically but as a person.

Theodore-Roosevelt Portrait.jpg
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

Continue reading “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Review”

The Art of Neil Gaiman – Review

The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell

Published in 2014

Pages: 320

Genre: Nonfiction, biography, coffee table book

“Neil Richard Gaiman was born on November 10, 1960, to David and Sheila Gaiman (née Goldman) above a grocery store on White Hart Lane, Portchester, a small town in Hampshire on the southern coast of England.”

The Art of Neil Gaiman is a nonfiction book written by Hayley Campbell; I simply call it a nonfiction book because while it deals with fiction, it is in itself about Neil Gaiman and his career. However, I’m not sure if I should call it a biography since I honestly don’t remember the last biography I read and Campbell herself refers to it as a coffee book in her writing, so the task of classification is a difficult one.

What it definitely is, though, is a glimpse into the storied (intentional pun, I assure you) career of one of the most prolific authors of our time. Spanning the spectrum of written media, The Art of Neil Gaiman is a comprehensive look at how words, stories, and art have woven together to create a beautiful tome in tribute. Continue reading “The Art of Neil Gaiman – Review”