Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt by Robert Gottlieb

The world has had more than its fair share of high profile, controversial celebrities.  Name off the first ones that come to mind.  Now dig a little deeper and name some more.  They were amateurs.  Every last one of them lives in the shadow of Sarah Bernhardt.  From obscure beginnings as the illegitimate daughter of … Continue reading Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt by Robert Gottlieb

Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman

My recent discovery of the Brontë sisters through their poetry made me want to discover more.  Before I read their novels, however, I wanted to learn who they were that I might better appreciate their work, as is my modus operandi when dealing with most authors before my own time, and especially for those whose works … Continue reading Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman

Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson by Tom Graves

The story is infamous.  According to legend, amateur guitar player Robert Johnson stood at the crossroads of US 61 and US 49 in Mississippi.  There he sold his soul in exchange for guitar playing prowess.  He emerges on the scene in short order to become the first truly modern bluesman, turning his back on stage … Continue reading Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson by Tom Graves

The Tigress of Forlì: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de Medici by Elizabeth Lev

1499.  Clad in battle armor over her noble finery, a woman looks down from the ramparts of the fortress at Forli.  Her surrender is demanded in exchange for the life of her son, a prisoner of the enemy army.  In an act of legendary defiance, she hikes up her skirts, grabs herself, and announces that … Continue reading The Tigress of Forlì: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de Medici by Elizabeth Lev

Inventing Eleanor: The Medieval and Post-Medieval Image of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Michael R. Evans

I'm on record as saying that if I were to be a knight in service, to bend the knee to anyone in history, it would be to Eleanor of Aquitaine, "by the wrath of God, Quene of England."  As a Medieval queen, and especially as one of significant personal power, she's known to have done … Continue reading Inventing Eleanor: The Medieval and Post-Medieval Image of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Michael R. Evans

Leonardo’s Brain: Understanding da Vinci’s Creative Genius by Leonard Shlain

There are a great many books out there on the genius of Leonardo da Vinci.  What makes this one different?  It was written by a brain surgeon at the end of his life while he was combatting a brain tumor.  As Leonardo himself could tell you, perspective and experience make a world of difference. I'm … Continue reading Leonardo’s Brain: Understanding da Vinci’s Creative Genius by Leonard Shlain