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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Interesting AND illuminating writing

I think a biography is only as interesting as the lives and times it illuminates.” – A. Scott Berg

Born on this date in 1949, American biographer Scott Berg is one of our premier biographers and has done a remarkable job in “illuminating” the lives of other famous Americans – among them Samuel Goldwyn, the founder of MGM; aviator Charles Lindbergh; and actress Katherine Hepburn.

The son of longtime film producer Dick Berg, Scott grew up in Connecticut, graduated from Princeton, and then got into writing biographies by expanding upon a senior thesis he chose to do on longtime editor Maxwell Perkins, the editor who handled both F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway for the New York-based publisher Scribner’s.   Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, his first full-length effort, not only is an illuminating look at the great editor but also the winner of a National Book Award.   His second book was Goldwyn: A Biography, and his third Lindbergh, the acclaimed New York Times bestseller about the Lone Eagle.  It won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. 
A close friend of Hepburn, his 2003 book Kate Remembered, is a biography-cum-memoir about the friendship, and while it has received mixed reviews, I highly recommend it if you are like me and enjoyed Hepburn’s long (and terrific) acting career.
Berg set a goal at age 22 of writing “a series of biographies                    
 about the great 20th Century American cultural figures from different parts of the country.”   So far, he’s done 5 – about one every 8-10 years.   “I am a compulsive worker,” he said.   “But I'm also a compulsive relaxer.”

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