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Lives Well Lived: Biographies

(Librarian Selected)



Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel
by Batchelor, Bob

9781442277816Bob BatchelorStan Lee: The Man Behind MarvelThe Amazing Spider-Man. The Incredible Hulk. The Invincible Iron Man. Black Panther. These are just a few of the iconic superheroes to emerge from the mind of Stan Lee. From the mean streets of Depression-era New York City to recipient of the National Medal of Arts, Lee's life has been almost as remarkable as the thrilling adventures he spun for decades. From millions of comic books fans of the 1960s through billions of moviegoers around the globe, Stan Lee has touched more people than almost any person in the history of popular culture. In Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel, Bob Batchelor offers an eye-opening look at this iconic visionary, a man who created (with talented artists) many of history's most legendary characters. In this energetic and entertaining biography, Batchelor explores how Lee capitalized on natural talent and hard work to become the editor of Marvel Comics as a teenager. After toiling in the industry for decades, Lee threw caution to the wind and went for broke, co-creating the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and others in a creative flurry that revolutionized comic books for generations of readers. Marvel superheroes became a central part of pop culture, from collecting comics to innovative merchandising, from superhero action figures to the ever-present Spider-Man lunchbox. Batchelor examines many of Lee's most beloved works, including the 1960s comics that transformed Marvel from a second-rate company to a legendary publisher. This book reveals the risks Lee took to bring the characters to life and Lee's tireless efforts to make comic books and superheroes part of mainstream culture for more than fifty years. Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel not only reveals why Lee developed into such a central figure in American entertainment history, but brings to life the cultural significance of comic books and how the superhero genre reflects ideas central to the American experience. Candid, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, this is a biography of a man who dreamed of one day writing the Great American Novel, but ended up doing so much more--changing American culture by creating new worlds and heroes that have entertained generations of readers. - Description from Syndetics
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The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations
by McCain, John; Salter, Mark

9781501178016John McCain; Mark SalterThe Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other AppreciationsIn this candid new political memoir from Senator John McCain, an American hero reflects on his life--and what matters most. "I don't know how much longer I'll be here. Maybe I'll have another five years. Maybe, with the advances in oncology, they'll find new treatments for my cancer that will extend my life. Maybe I'll be gone before you read this. My predicament is, well, rather unpredictable. But I'm prepared for either contingency, or at least I'm getting prepared. I have some things I'd like to take care of first, some work that needs finishing, and some people I need to see. And I want to talk to my fellow Americans a little more if I may." So writes John McCain in this inspiring, moving, frank, and deeply personal memoir. Written while confronting a mortal illness, McCain looks back with appreciation on his years in the Senate, his historic 2008 campaign for the presidency against Barack Obama, and his crusades on behalf of democracy and human rights in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Always the fighter, McCain attacks the "spurious nationalism" and political polarization afflicting American policy. He makes an impassioned case for democratic internationalism and bi-partisanship. He tells stories of his most satisfying moments of public service, including his work with another giant of the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy. Senator McCain recalls his disagreements with several presidents, and minces no words in his objections to some of President Trump's statements and policies. At the same time, he offers a positive vision of America that looks beyond the Trump presidency. The Restless Wave is John McCain at his best. - Description from Syndetics
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Leonardo da Vinci
by Isaacson, Walter

9781501139154Walter IsaacsonLeonardo Da VinciThe #1 New York Times Bestseller "A powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life...a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it."-- The New Yorker "Vigorous, insightful."-- The Washington Post "A masterpiece."-- San Francisco Chronicle "Luminous."-- The Daily Beast He was history's most creative genius. What secrets can he teach us? The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs , Einstein , and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography. Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo's astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo's genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy. He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa . But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man , made him history's most creative genius. His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history's most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper . Isaacson also describes how Leonardo's lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions. Leonardo's delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it--to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different. - Description from Syndetics
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Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker
by Mitnick, Kevin D; Simon, William L

9780316037723Kevin Mitnick; William L. Simon (As told to); Steve Wozniak (Foreword by)Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted HackerThe thrilling memoir of the world's most wanted computer hacker "Mitnick manages to make breaking computer code sound as action-packed as robbing a bank." -- NPR Kevin Mitnick was the most elusive computer break-in artist in history. He accessed computers and networks at the world's biggest companies--and no matter how fast the authorities were, Mitnick was faster, sprinting through phone switches, computer systems, and cellular networks. As the FBI's net finally began to tighten, Mitnick went on the run, engaging in an increasingly sophisticated game of hide-and-seek that escalated through false identities, a host of cities, and plenty of close shaves, to an ultimate showdown with the Feds, who would stop at nothing to bring him down. Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling true story of intrigue, suspense, and unbelievable escapes--and a portrait of a visionary who forced the authorities to rethink the way they pursued him, and forced companies to rethink the way they protect their most sensitive information. - Description from Syndetics
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Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin
by Ritz, David

9780316196819David RitzRespect: The Life of Aretha FranklinAretha Franklin begain life as the golden daughter of a progressive and promiscuous Baptist preacher. Raised without her mother, she was a gospel prodigy who have birth to two sons in her teens and left them and her native Detriot for New York, where she struggled to find her true voice. It was not until 1967, when a white Jewish producer insisted she return to her gospel-soul roots, that fame and fortune finally came via 'Respect' and a rapidfire string of hits. She has evolved ever since, amidst personal tragedy, surprise Grammy performances and career reinventions. Again and again, Aretha stubbornly finds a way to triumph over troubles, even as they continue to build. Her hold on the crown is tenacious, and in RESPECT, David Ritz gives us the definitive life of one of the greatest talents in all American culture. - Description from Syndetics
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The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital
by Robbins, Alexandra

9780761171713Alexandra RobbinsThe Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the HospitalA New York Times bestseller. "A funny, intimate, and often jaw-dropping account of life behind the scenes."-- People Nurses is the compelling story of the year in the life of four nurses, and the drama, unsung heroism, and unique sisterhood of nursing--one of the world's most important professions (nurses save lives every day), and one of the world's most dangerous, filled with violence, trauma, and PTSD. In following four nurses, Alexandra Robbins creates sympathetic characters while diving deep into their world of controlled chaos. It's a world of hazing--"nurses eat their young." Sex--not exactly like on TV, but surprising just the same. Drug abuse--disproportionately a problem among the best and the brightest, and a constant temptation. And bullying--by peers, by patients, by hospital bureaucrats, and especially by doctors, an epidemic described as lurking in the "shadowy, dark corners of our profession." The result is a page-turning, shocking look at our health-care system. - Description from Syndetics
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Skloot, Rebecca

9781400052172Rebecca SklootThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksNow a major motion picture from HBO® starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons--as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the "colored" ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta's small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia--a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo--to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Henrietta's family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family--past and present--is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family--especially Henrietta's daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother's cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn't her children afford health insurance? Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences. - Description from Syndetics
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Born Trump: Inside America's First Family
by Fox, Emily Jane

9780062690777Emily Jane FoxBorn TrumpWho is Donald J. Trump? To truly understand America's forty-fifth president, argues Vanity Fair journalist Emily Jane Fox, you must know his children, whose own stories provide the key to unlocking what makes him tick. Born Trump is Fox's dishy, deeply reported, and richly detailed look at Trump's five children (and equally powerful son-in-law, Jared Kushner), exploring their lives, their roles in the campaign and administration, and their dramatic and often fraught relationships with their father and with one another. Reexamining the tabloid-soaked events that shaped their lives in startling new detail, Born Trump is full of surprising insights, previously untold stories, and delicious tidbits about their childhoods (ridiculously privileged and painful, in equal measure) and the extraordinary power they now wield. As a version of this new kind of American royalty they wish to be, they are ensconced not in palaces but in Trump Tower and the White House. Even before Trump's oldest child, Don Jr., was born, Donald told friends that he wanted at least five kids--to make sure there was a greater probability one would turn out just like him. His vision didn't pan out exactly as he'd imagined, but Trump's children each inherited some of his essential traits--as one source says, "collectively, they make the whole." Ivanka is a media-savvy, hyperskilled messenger with her father's self-promotional ease but without the brash. Don Jr. has the most contentious relationship with his father yet seems prone to endlessly repeat his mistakes. Eric embraced the family's real estate business but has, in surprising ways, charted a more independent course than his siblings. While Tiffany grew up mostly separate from her father, she inherited Trump's perspective as an outsider--his unique combination of assurance and insecurity. And there is Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner, whose own family drama and personal ambition is a crucial thread in this saga. Come for the vision of Trump as a father--a portrait of the president at his kindest and cruelest. Stay for the revelatory gossip, including the truth about the firings of Christie and Manafort, the inside scoop on Donald's three marriages, why Ivanka and Jared are "bashert," and how this family of real estate tycoons have become the most powerful people in the world. - Description from Syndetics
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Johnny Cash: The Life
by Hilburn, Robert

9780316194754Robert HilburnJohnny Cash: The LifeThe national bestseller celebrated as "the ultimate Johnny Cash biography....Rock writer great Robert Hilburn goes deep." -- Rolling Stone In this, the definitive biography of an American legend, Robert Hilburn conveys the unvarnished truth about a musical superstar. Johnny Cash's extraordinary career stretched from his days at Sun Records with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to the remarkable creative last hurrah, at age 69, that resulted in the brave, moving "Hurt" video. As music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn knew Cash throughout his life: he was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed both Cash and his wife June Carter just months before their deaths. Drawing upon a trove of never-before-seen material from the singer's inner circle, Hilburn creates an utterly compelling, deeply human portrait of a towering figure in country music, a seminal influence in rock, and an icon of American popular culture. Hilburn's reporting shows the astonishing highs and deep lows that marked the journey of a man of great faith and humbling addiction who throughout his life strove to use his music to lift people's spirits. - Description from Syndetics
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The Autobiography of Gucci Mane
by Gucci Mane; Martinez-Belkin, Neil

9781501165320Gucci Mane; Neil Martinez-BelkinThe Autobiography of Gucci ManeNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "As wild, unpredictable, and fascinating as the man himself. " -- Complex "A cautionary tale that ends in triumph." -- GQ "A revelation and a welcome addition to hip-hop's literary legacy." -- All Hip Hop The highly anticipated memoir from Gucci Mane, "one of hip-hop's most prolific and admired artists" ( The New York Times ). For the first time Gucci Mane tells his story in his own words. It is the captivating life of an artist who forged an unlikely path to stardom and personal rebirth. Gucci Mane began writing his memoir in a maximum-security federal prison. Released in 2016, he emerged radically transformed. He was sober, smiling, focused, and positive--a far cry from the Gucci Mane of years past. Born in rural Bessemer, Alabama, Radric Delantic Davis became Gucci Mane in East Atlanta, where the rap scene is as vibrant as the dope game. His name was made as a drug dealer first, rapper second. His influential mixtapes and street anthems pioneered the sound of trap music. He inspired and mentored a new generation of artists and producers: Migos, Young Thug, Nicki Minaj, Zaytoven, Mike Will Made-It, Metro Boomin. Yet every success was followed by setback. Too often, his erratic behavior threatened to end it all. Incarceration, violence, rap beefs, drug addiction. But Gucci Mane has changed, and he's decided to tell his story. In his extraordinary autobiography, the legend takes us to his roots in Alabama, the streets of East Atlanta, the trap house, and the studio where he found his voice as a peerless rapper. He reflects on his inimitable career and in the process confronts his dark past--years behind bars, the murder charge, drug addiction, career highs and lows--the making of a trap god. It is one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of music. The Autobiography of Gucci Mane is a blunt and candid account--an instant classic. - Description from Syndetics
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