by Shawn Levy
Paul Newman’s fans won’t find many surprising revelations in Shawn Levy’s “respectful but-not-whitewashed, tribute,” said Laura DeMarco in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Newman’s strained relationship with his only son and a 1969 extramarital affair were apparently the lowlights of the actor and philanthropist’s 83-year life. Levy never won an interview with the Ohio native, but has done enough library reading and legwork to piece together a compelling, 500-page portrait of his subject. “It reads like a breeze.”
The Protest Singer
by Alec Wilkinson
Alec Wilkinson’s essay-length book “serves perfectly well” as an introduction to the epic life of 90-year-old folk singer Pete Seeger, said Jay Lustig in Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. A slightly expanded version of a profile Wilkinson wrote for The New Yorker, it follows the Harvard dropout as he befriends Woody Guthrie, brushes up against pop stardom, scuffles with the House Un-American Activities Committee, and achieves a few dreams. Its best moments, though, are small—the white-haired Seeger visiting an elementary school in 2006, or staging a one-man roadside peace demonstration.
Masters of Sex
by Thomas Maier
The couple who became the biggest brand in 1960s sex research are hard to get to know, said Daphne Merkin in TheDailybeast.com. William Masters and Virginia Johnson teamed up by chance, started having sex for the sake of science, then entered a marriage that blew up after 22 years. Thomas Maier’s “richly informed and elegantly organized account” of their lives and culture-changing lab work can’t explain them. It does, however, “suggest that love is far more elusive than an orgasm.”
by Allegra Huston
(Simon & Schuster, $27)
“Few autobiographical writers” have as “dizzying” a tale to tell as Allegra Huston, said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. Raised by film director John Huston and then his actress daughter, Anjelica, Allegra is 12 when she learns her true father’s identity and deduces why so much of her life is spent being shuffled between makeshift families. A “bog-ordinary” girl swimming in a sea of celebrity, she comes honestly by her obvious “flair for passive aggressiveness.” Love Child “bristles with sentiments left half-expressed or unsaid.”
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