Top 5: Kate Buford
The author on her five favorite biographical works
Kate Buford is the author of such acclaimed biographies as Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe—a New York Times Editors’ Choice—and Burt Lancaster: An American Life. “All biographies are written to tell the story of a life that made a difference,” says the Yonkers resident. “And the best ones are written to solve a mystery—why did this life happen the way it did?” Here she shares the titles of five bios that solve that mystery in particularly compelling fashion.
James Joyce (Richard Ellmann)
My Turn at Bat: The Story of My Life (Ted Williams)
|Balzac (Stefan Zweig)|
Buford describes this work about Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), the prolific, indefatigable French author of La Comédie Humaine, among many other works, as a “classic, old-fashioned life story brimming with passion and detail.” Buford notes that this book was published in 1946, four years after Zweig, a hugely popular Austrian-Jewish novelist and biographer who worked on it for years, committed suicide in Brazil.
|Robert E. Lee (Roy Blount, Jr.) |
Noting that Virginia’s Lee has always seemed to her “a tragically weak and tortured figure,” Buford says that this book is a particularly appropriate choice this year, the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. “Blount’s short biography of the Confederate general gives a piquant and not particularly flattering picture of the man referred to as the ‘Marble Model,’” she adds.
Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña & Richard Fariña (David Hajdu)