Bogie & Bacall: The Surprising True Story of Hollywood’s Greatest Love Affair

Harper. Jun. 2023. 656p. ISBN 9780063026391. $35. BIOG
This revelatory dual chronicle of the lives of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is the definitive biography fans have been waiting for and deserve. By stripping away the barnacles of fake Bogart lore that vintage publicity agents created to carefully manufacture a he-man image, Mann (The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando) unveils a fresh, complex, and empathetic portrait. Readers learn about Bogart’s affluent but rocky childhood, raised by a drug-addicted physician father and an affection-withholding mother. Mann also sorts through decades of erroneous mythmaking that cast Bogart’s first three wives as villains and alcoholics to better serve the propaganda of his loving but idealized fourth marriage to Bacall, who was 25 years his junior. Mann treats Bogart’s high-functioning alcohol addiction with sympathy and nuance but illustrates how it controlled his life. This sweeping biography tilts its focus a little more toward Bogart (1899–1957), but Bacall (1924–2014) is an integral half of this dual biography, including her affair with Frank Sinatra and her second marriage to Jason Robards.
VERDICT This magnificent biography is splendidly written, reads fast, and is impossible to put down.
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