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Brief lives, big book

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is published today, in print and online: a biographical record of everyone who's ever been anyone in British history (50,000 individuals) and an astonishing feat of scholarly collaboration (10,000 contributors from all over the world). Access to the full database is fearfully expensive, but the official site gives you a good selection of sample entries, with a new one added every day; and a feature in today's Times gives you some more, beginning with Mary Toft, the woman who gave birth to rabbits.
posted by verstegan on Sep 23, 2004 - 11 comments

Two Years Before the Mast

Two Years Before the Mast. "In the following pages I design to give an accurate and authentic narrative of a little more than two years spent as a common sailor,before the mast, in the American merchant service. It is written out from a journal which I kept at the time, and from notes which I made of most of the events as they happened." At the beginning of his third year of Harvard a severe attack of measles interrupted Henry Dana's studies, and so affected his eyes as to preclude, for a time at least, all idea of study. The state of the family finances was not such as to permit of foreign travel in search of health. Accordingly, prompted by necessity and by a youthful love of adventure, he shipped as a common sailor in the brig, bound for the California coast.
posted by weston on Sep 14, 2004 - 22 comments

saving a week of your life from Bill Clinton

The Condensed Bill Clinton: Slate reads My Life so you don't have to.
posted by reklaw on Jun 23, 2004 - 41 comments

Ponzi!

What's a Ponzi Scheme? Enron was described as a Ponzi scheme. Social security has also been described as a Ponzi scheme. The originator of this scheme was Carlo Ponzi who led an interesting life and bought a nice pink house with his ill-gotten gains. There's even a website where you can read about him in more detail, including the intro to his autobiography.
posted by dodgygeezer on Jun 16, 2004 - 9 comments

Biography And Literary Worth

Philip Larkin: Great Poet, Shame About The Man? When is an excess of biography, i.e. high-minded, clumsily-disguised gossip, an impediment to literary appreciation? Nowadays, it seems always. [More inside.]
posted by MiguelCardoso on Mar 19, 2004 - 26 comments

Lulu

Louise Brooks: With a new biopic in the works, the spotlight will soon return to this silent-movie legend. The beautiful and enchanting Brooks set the mold for the stereotypical bobbed-hair flapper of the 1920s, though her Hollywood work is largely forgettable. Her most famous film, Pandora’s Box [script, mirror] (directed by G.W. Pabst) was filmed in Germany. She didn't make a successful transition to talkies, and after a long reclusive period, she had a second career writing essays. -- For further reading, Ken Tynan's 1979 essay "The Girl in the Black Helmet" [mirror] in the New Yorker gives an excellent overview of her life.
posted by stopgap on Dec 16, 2003 - 11 comments

Picasso: Nearly 7,000 Images Online

The On-Line Picasso Project offers 6,893 works for your ogling pleasure, plus an obsessively documented chronological bio. I'm stunned. (please read the user's manual, inside.)
posted by taz on Oct 2, 2003 - 12 comments

NeoCons

Know Your NeoCons. Already the name "NeoCon" is used as an invective from the Left. But who are they? Here are some of their faces, brief biographies, and information about what a NeoCon is, at least as how they define it.
posted by kablam on Sep 4, 2003 - 27 comments

biographies

A million lives. Links to thousands of biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, letters, narratives, oral histories and more.
posted by pooligan on Aug 25, 2003 - 3 comments

Heroes and Villains

More or Less is an interesting mini-encyclopedia of several of the great heroes & great villains of the 20th Century, with background information on each individual, the situation they were in, the scope of their impact on humanity, etc. It makes an interesting contrast, as well as a good thinking point on what one human life can achieve, for better or worse.
posted by jonson on Aug 24, 2003 - 3 comments

70's Psuedo Psychic

"Uri Geller [warning: pop ups] became well known for a few scientifically unexplained phenomena. They are Telepathy... Dowsing... Bending, breaking and softening metal and other solids with the power of the mind, e.g. spoons, keys etc, more rarely plastic and glass; Fixing broken watches and appliances, and using collective power, influencing the Big Ben to stop; Moving compasses with the power of thought; Erasing computer tapes and disks; and Sprouting, causing tiny seeds (mainly red radish) to grow a few centimeters in seconds." Why not thrill to a biography of this favorite pseudo psychic of the 70s? To be frank, until just now, I wasn't even aware that he was back!
posted by Joey Michaels on Mar 24, 2003 - 11 comments

Saddam: A look back

"Saddam the paranoid tyrant can be traced back to Saddam the persecuted village boy" He went from an illegitimate birth, to living with a harsh step-father, to leader of a nation about to be on the other side of war with the United States for a second time. Take a look back at Saddam Hussein.
posted by RobbieFal on Mar 18, 2003 - 2 comments

Biographical Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Film

Gary Westfahl's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Film is an attempt to do for SF film what David Thomson's brilliant "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" does for film in general - to provide a well informed and wholly subjective survey of the most important people who contributed to the field. The BESFF is very much a work in progress, and half the fun is seeing who author Gary Westfahl has chosen to include this month. His entries so far range from the obvious to the surprising to the deeply obscure. Always though, his witty and often compassionate pocket reviews of these carreers show how seriously he feels SF cinema should be taken, and by extension how betrayed he feels by those within the field who don't.
posted by thatwhichfalls on Dec 2, 2002 - 6 comments

Our Bastard(s) Somoza

Our Bastard(s) Somoza Speaking of brutal Nicaraguan dicatator Somoza, Harry Truman is supposed to have said "He's a bastard, but he's our bastard." Looking for a source for this quote, I discovered it's attributed to Truman, FDR, and Nixon. This is such a broad chronological range that I figured I could narrow it down by finding out when Somza lived. No such luck: according to two biography*/histories, there were actuall three Somozas: Anastasio Somoza Garcia, who fathered Luis Somoza Debayle and Anastasio Somoza Debayle, and the Somoza dynasty that ruled Nicaragua from the mid 1930s through the late 1970s. All three of those presidents could well have made the comment. But I'm still stuck for a source...

* This link (the first history/bio) requires anyone clicking from an outside page to go through an extra "Welcome Mat" page on the first time through. Annoying, but no registration required.

posted by namespan on Nov 11, 2002 - 18 comments

An astonishingly thorough and well-researched biography

An astonishingly thorough and well-researched biography of Robert Heinlein. A giant of the SF genre; revered and repudiated in nearly equal proportions, his long shadow falls over most SF writing since the 1950's. This site, where the bio is hosted, is a even-handed and thorough repository for all things Heinlein.
posted by GriffX on Jul 25, 2002 - 15 comments

Shakey: Neil Young's Biography. . .

Shakey: Neil Young's Biography. . . Any big Neil Young fan, and I have to admit to being one, also spends a lot of time hating a lot of his artistic output (i. e. the cringe-enducing Let's Roll, as well as his all-over-the-map politics. In the LATimes book review Hal Epsen mentions that the reliably perverse Young has been a staunch Reagan supporter and proponent of the death penalty, as well as a devoted husband and a stalwart parent to three kids, two of whom were born with cerebral palsy. He also asserts that Young appeals almost wholly to male listeners. Young has been discussed here before but not, I believe his biography, which, as has been Neil Young's M. O. from the get-go, is a dictionary-perfect example of a "mixed bag."
posted by Danf on May 16, 2002 - 35 comments

It's strange to think Harmony Cousins is part my generation when she's lived ten times the life I have. But the fact that even after all this she can pull herself back to together proves that she's ten times the person most of us are. How many of us have her strength?
posted by feelinglistless on Apr 1, 2002 - 29 comments

Isaac Asimov died of AIDS.

Isaac Asimov died of AIDS. His widow, Janet Jeppson Asimov, reveals that Asimov acquired AIDS from a blood transfusion during bypass surgery in 1983 in a condensed version of his biography just published this month ("It's Been a Good Life"). Apparently his doctor advised that they not disclose his AIDS infection.
posted by maudlin on Mar 10, 2002 - 39 comments

The Wayback machine

The Wayback machine shows some biographical reconstructive surgery for the Secretary of the U.S. Army. Post-Enron collapse bio versus pre-Enron Collapse bio. 1984 style revisionism meet digital storage technology! [story from NTK].
posted by srboisvert on Feb 24, 2002 - 5 comments

Muhammad O' Ali.

Muhammad O' Ali. Geneologists have uncovered his Irish roots. His great grandfather was an Irish emigree who married an African American woman in Kentucky.
posted by Lanternjmk on Feb 8, 2002 - 12 comments

Who is Osama Bin Laden?

Who is Osama Bin Laden? ...The Afghan jihad was backed with American dollars and had the blessing of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. He received security training from the CIA itself, according to Middle Eastern analyst Hazhir Teimourian.
Is OBL the United State's Golem?
posted by housepox on Sep 12, 2001 - 2 comments

The Filth and The Fury.

The Filth and The Fury. I went to see this film last night and it has to be one of the best music documentary (or, if you will, rockumentary) films I've seen. It charts the Sex Pistols rise and fall and is surprisingly funny and touching. It even manages to capture Seventies Britain in all its revolting glory. I think I shall now go and put a safety pin through my website.
posted by dodgygeezer on Jun 23, 2000 - 3 comments

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