Least Admirable Subjects in Biographies

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Least Admirable Subjects in Biographies

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Jul 27, 2007, 8:24 pm

As an avid reader of biographies, I was asked the other day which persons I admired least after reading their biographies. Aside from the usual suspects (e.g., Hitler, Stalin, Nixon, etc,) I came up with three names: Bertrand Russell, Henry Miller, and Clare Booth Luce as portrayed respectively in Bertrand Russell: A Life by Robert Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life by Caroline Moorhead, and Rage for Fame: Clare Booth Luce by Sylvia Morris. While these people made valuable, or at least interesting, contributions in their work they all seemed to lack even an ounce of personal integrity in their interactions with others. In their wakes, they left a trail of human wreckage.

I'd be interested to know other takes on these subjects, as well as the names of other candidates for "least admirable subjects" that anyone cares to submit.

Jul 28, 2007, 12:54 am

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Jul 28, 2007, 1:23 am

Editado: Jul 28, 2007, 2:43 am

Che Guevara after reading Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson. I'm not impressed with Guevara after I learned about how he treated the women in his life. This guy was really selfish.

Editado: Out 13, 2008, 12:04 pm

Speaking of treating women poorly, my regard for Lawrence Durrell plummeted after reading Through A Glass Darkly: A Biography Of Lawrence Durrell. Perhaps his friendship with misogynist Henry Miller was partly to blame? "Small man" syndrome?

Maio 26, 2008, 9:51 pm

Mother Theresa, after reading The Missionary Position. It seems the only good (depending on your perspective) she ~actually~ did was make her Order incredibly rich. The help an comfort she gave in India was minimal, and apparently a cover for soliciting funds.

Maio 27, 2008, 10:11 am

Yes, I was shocked by Christopher Hitchens' revelations. And didn't she say that the suffering of the poor is something very beautiful?

Maio 27, 2008, 11:51 am

It was something to that effect, yes. It's been a while since I read it, but if I recall correctly (and I apologize in advance if I am mistaken), it was in line with the Buddhist teachings of reincarnation -- be happy with your station in life because by embracing your misery, you will be rewarded in the next life. Kind of like 'Fish' talk, eh?

Maio 28, 2008, 12:58 pm

Not that I ever admired her, but I was curious to know more about Leni Riefenstahl.

I started reading Leni : the life and work of Leni Riefenstahl by Steven Bach got a little over half the way through and never finished it. Although I felt the book was well written and researched, I felt I had better things so do with my time than waste it on this narcissistic opportunist.

I too have heard negative things about Mother Theresa. I had a friend who became a disillusioned "fan", and she told me much of the same.

Jul 7, 2008, 2:28 pm

Playwright John Osborne after reading John Osborne:The Many Lives of the Angry Young Man by John Heilpern. He cheated on four of his five wives, even cheated on the mistresses with more women, and despised his mother to the point that he was seen trying to push her down a flight of stairs backstage after one of his plays.

Out 12, 2008, 2:56 pm

I cannot remember who wrote it, but I read a bio of film maker Oliver Stone that portrayed him as a pot smoking self-absorbed buffoon who sort of lucked into his success.