Mike Nichols: A Life

Penguin Pr. Feb. 2021. 688p. ISBN 9780399562242. $35. film
Editor and journalist Harris's (Five Came Back) engrossing, pull-no-punches biography of American movie and theater director Mike Nichols (1931-2014) presents both well-known and more obscure portions of his subject's life and work through a chronological arrangement, with copious excerpts from interviews with actors, writers, designers, and other creative folks. The author divides the narrative into two- or three-year chunks, examining Nichols's Jewish family's escape from Germany on the cusp of World War II; his early successes in clubs, radio, and television as a duo with Elaine May; and his collaborations with Neil Simon on Broadway and his renown for movies such as The Graduate. Neither avoiding nor emphasizing Nichols's excesses of consumption and failed marriages, Harris creates a fully rounded portrait of a person who could command the respect and support of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and master his craft yet still feel insecure when confronted with disappointment.
VERDICT A compelling storyteller, Harris sweeps readers up into the whirlwind of Nichols's life. Likely to become the definitive book about Nichols, Harris's exhaustive take should have widespread appeal, especially given the dearth of currently available literature about this important and influential entertainment icon.


In an earlier version of this review, LJ listed the author as Hermione Lee. We regret the error.

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LJ User

You have the author listed as Hermione Lee when it is, in fact, Mark Harris.

Posted : Feb 18, 2021 04:26




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