Eclectic Musings

Three Uncommonly Good Autobiographies

December 11, 2011

Following, in no particular order, are some of the biographies, autobiographies, diaries, collected letters, etc., I keep stored on my Kindle. Reason: these men and women offer thoughts and observations that make for interesting companionable reading. On days when lively conversation is nowhere to be found, and I am in the mood for brilliant or thought-provoking chit chat, I have these ready-made friends to turn to – and I don’t even have to prepare coffee or cake!

An Autobiography, Agatha Christie – Agatha Christie could never be a bore. She is too skilled at presenting written information that hooks the reader into her world. Her Autobiography is filled with the sorts of anecdotes and details you’d expect from a woman who lived a pretty interesting life – surviving two world wars, forging a career for herself as the top-selling mystery writer and one of the most successful playwrights of all time, surviving a traumatic divorce, reinventing herself as the wife of an archeologist (husband number two), traveling with him on archeological digs to Ninevah and Petra, and then coming home to England, cream cakes and tea. A great rainy day – or anytime – read.


Martha Gellhorn with Ernest Hemingway, 1941

Selected Letters of Martha Gellhorn, edited by Caroline Moore – Martha Gellhorn took pains to place herself where the action was in the 1930’s and ’40’s. She is best known for having been one of Ernest Hemingway’s wives. But she was accomplished in her own right as a journalist and, especially, as a war reporter. She corresponded, among others, with Eleanor Roosevelt and H. G. Wells, as well as with Hemingway, and her letters, written from 1930 to 1996, are those of a free spirit finding her way, often admirable, often flawed, making mistakes, landing on her feet and growing wiser but never less passionate with the advancing years.

Big Russ and Me, Tim Russert – I still miss Tim Russert. He was an outstanding moderator on Meet the Press. As an interviewer, he didn’t pull any punches but he was always courteous and fair, and you just knew he’d done his homework each and every time. He was the consummate journalistic professional. Big Russ & Me is a valentine to his father, the “Big Russ” of the title. It also provides much of Tim Russert’s story, sharing with us the influences – church, community and family – that shaped him into the outstanding professional he became. The dictionary defines “wholesome” as “conducive to or suggestive of good health and physical well-being; conducive to or promoting moral well-being.” Tim Russert was the epitome of “wholesome” and his book continues to be a good influence on this ol’ world, just as the man himself was when he was with us.


Image of Martha Gellhorn: Wikimedia Commons

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