PositiveThe Nw York Times Book Review... [a] meticulously researched biography, which uses Stritch’s struggles with alcoholism as a window into her work and her life ... As in real life, the Elaine in Jacobs’s book frustrates and entertains in equal measure. She triumphs in Bus Stop she drinks too much, she falls in love with Rock Hudson, she drinks too much, she battles with Walter and Jean Kerr on a mediocre musical, she bewitches Noël Coward, she drinks too much, she sleeps with the dancer Grover Dale, and the circle goes round ... If you read Still Here looking for tidy conclusions or happy endings, you’ll be unsatisfied. It remains unclear if Stritch was ever happy or ever at peace. But as a chronicle of one impossible brilliant actor and the community around her, this biography provides a thoroughly entertaining and vividly drawn picture of show business in the 20th century. And of course Elaine gets the last word, which surely she would appreciate.
Todd S. Purdum
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewAs the title and subtitle suggest, Purdum approaches this oeuvre as a fan, and while he is not afraid to be critical of some of his subjects’ work, his purpose is not to interrogate or recontextualize Rodgers and Hammerstein’s extraordinary accomplishments. Rather, taking advantage of the mountain of documentation already available and some delightful firsthand interviews, he meticulously recreates the environment and the atmosphere in which these seminal works were created. Purdum’s evocations of a war-torn America discovering and embracing Oklahoma! succeed in making that show seem as vital and all-encompassing a phenomenon as Hamilton 70 years later ... Purdum, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, is a political writer by trade, and understandably has a much easier time parsing Hammerstein’s lyrics than he does making sense of Rodgers’s music, but to his credit, he gamely offers some astute musical analysis ... Certain preconceptions cling to the Rodgers and Hammerstein mythos, and Purdum doesn’t manage to shake our familiar impression of the two as an emotional odd couple ... But...his understanding of structure and character are on ample display ... In giving us access to the world that gave birth to them, Purdum’s authoritative and ultimately moving book brings these masterpieces to light with bracing clarity.