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List books in category Biographies & Memoirs / Literary

  • How I Became Hettie Jones

    How I Became Hettie Jones
    Hettie Jones

    Greenwich Village in the 1950s was a haven to which young poets, painters, and jazz musicians flocked. Among them was Hettie Cohen, who'd been born into a middle-class Jewish family in Queens and who'd chosen to cross racial barriers to marry the controversial black poet LeRoi Jones. Theirs was a bohemian life in the awakening East Village of underground publishing and jazz lofts, through which drifted such icons of the generation as Allen Ginsberg, Thelonious Monk, Jack Kerouac, Frank O'Hara, Billie Holiday, James Baldwin, and Franz Kline.

  • The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou

    The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou
    Maya Angelou

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Maya Angelou’s classic memoirs have had an enduring impact on American literature and culture. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS’s American Masters.This Modern Library edition contains I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, The Heart of a Woman, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, and A Song Flung Up to Heaven. When I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to widespread acclaim in 1969, Maya Angelou garnered the attention of an international audience with the triumphs and tragedies of her childhood in the American South. This soul-baring memoir launched a six-book epic spanning the sweep of the author’s incredible life. Now, for the first time, all six celebrated and bestselling autobiographies are available in this handsome one-volume edition. Dedicated fans and newcomers alike can follow the continually absorbing chronicle of Angelou’s life: her formative childhood in Stamps, Arkansas; the birth of her son, Guy, at the end of World War II; her adventures traveling abroad with the famed cast of Porgy and Bess; her experience living in a black expatriate “colony” in Ghana; her intense involvement with the civil rights movement, including her association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X; and, finally, the beginning of her writing career. The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou traces the best and worst of the American experience in an achingly personal way. Angelou has chronicled her remarkable journey and inspired people of every generation and nationality to embrace life with commitment and passion.From the Hardcover edition.

  • Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961

    Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961
    Nicholas Reynolds

    A "riveting"* international cloak-and-dagger epic ranging from the Spanish Civil War to the liberation of Western Europe, wartime China, the Red Scare of Cold War America, and the Cuban Revolution, here is the stunning untold story of a literary icon's dangerous secret life — including his role as a Soviet agent code-named "Argo" — that fueled his art and his undoingIn 2010, while he was the historian at the esteemed CIA Museum, Nicholas Reynolds, a longtime American intelligence officer, former U.S. Marine colonel, and Oxford-trained historian, began to uncover clues suggesting Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway was deeply involved in mid-twentieth-century spycraft — a mysterious and shocking relationship that was far more complex, sustained, and fraught with risks than has ever been previously supposed. Now Reynolds's meticulously researched and captivating narrative, Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy, "looks among the shadows and finds a Hemingway not seen before" (London Review of Books), revealing for the first time the whole story of this hidden side of Hemingway's life: his troubling recruitment by Soviet spies to work with the NKVD, the forerunner to the KGB, followed in short order by a complex set of secret relationships with American agencies, including the FBI, the Department of State, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a precursor to the CIA.Starting with Hemingway's sympathy to antifascist forces during the 1930s, Reynolds illuminates Hemingway's immersion in the life-and-death world of the revolutionary left, from his passionate commitment to the Spanish Republic; his successful pursuit by Soviet NKVD agents, who valued Hemingway's influence, access, and mobility; his wartime meeting in East Asia with communist leader Chou En-Lai, the future premier of the People's Republic of China; and finally to his undercover involvement with Cuban rebels in the late 1950s and his sympathy for Fidel Castro. Reynolds equally explores Hemingway's participation in various roles as an agent for the United States government, including hunting Nazi submarines with ONI-supplied munitions in the Caribbean on his boat, Pilar; his command of an informant ring in Cuba called the "Crook Factory" that reported to the American embassy in Havana; and his on-the-ground role in Europe, where he helped OSS gain key tactical intelligence for the liberation of Paris and fought alongside the U.S. infantry in the bloody endgame of World War II.As he examines the links between Hemingway's work as an operative and as an author, Reynolds reveals how Hemingway's secret adventures influenced his literary output and contributed to the writer's block and mental decline (including paranoia) that plagued him during the postwar years — a period marked by the Red Scare and McCarthy hearings, which destroyed the life of anyone with Soviet connections. Reynolds also illuminates how those same experiences played a role in some of Hemingway's greatest works, including For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, while also adding to the burden that he carried at the end of his life and perhaps contributing to his suicide.A literary biography with the soul of an espionage thriller, Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy is an essential contribution to our understanding of the life, work, and fate of one of America's most legendary authors.*William Doyle

  • Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

    Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay
    Nancy Milford

    Thirty years after the smashing success of Zelda, Nancy Milford returns with a stunning second act. Savage Beauty is the portrait of a passionate, fearless woman who obsessed American ever as she tormented herself.If F. Scott Fitzgerald was the hero of the Jazz Age, Edna St. Vincent Millay, as flamboyant in her love affairs as she was in her art, was its heroine. The first woman ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, Millay was dazzling in the performance of herself. Her voice was likened to an instrument of seduction and her impact on crowds, and on men, was legendary. Yet beneath her studied act, all was not well. Milford calls her book "a family romance"–for the love between the three Millay sisters and their mother was so deep as to be dangerous. As a family, they were like real-life Little Women, with a touch of Mommie Dearest.Nancy Milford was given exclusive access to Millay's papers, and what she found was an extraordinary treasure. Boxes and boxes of letter flew back and forth among the three sisters and their mother–and Millay kept the most intimate diary, one whose ruthless honesty brings to mind Sylvia Plath. Written with passion and flair, Savage Beauty is an iconic portrait of a woman's life.

  • How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir

    How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir
    Cat Marnell

    From Cat Marnell, “New York’s enfant terrible” (The Telegraph), a candid and darkly humorous memoir of prescription drug addiction and self-sabotage, set in the glamorous world of fashion magazines and downtown nightclubs.At twenty-six, Cat Marnell was an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America—and that’s all most people knew about her. But she hid a secret life. She was a prescription drug addict. She was also a “doctor shopper” who manipulated Upper East Side psychiatrists for pills, pills, and more pills; a lonely bulimic who spent hundreds of dollars a week on binge foods; a promiscuous party girl who danced barefoot on banquets; a weepy and hallucination-prone insomniac who would take anything—anything—to sleep. This is a tale of self-loathing, self-sabotage, and yes, self-tanner. It begins at a posh New England prep school—and with a prescription for Attention Deficit Disorder medication Ritalin. It continues to New York, where we follow Marnell’s amphetamine-fueled rise from intern to editor through the beauty departments of NYLON, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Lucky. We see her fight between ambition and addiction and how, inevitably, her disease threatens everything she worked so hard to achieve. From the Condé Nast building (where she rides the elevator alongside Anna Wintour) to seedy nightclubs, from doctors’ offices and mental hospitals, Marnell shows—like no one else can—what it is like to live in the wild, chaotic, often sinister world of a young female addict who can’t say no. Combining lightning-rod subject matter and bold literary aspirations, How to Murder Your Life is mesmerizing, revelatory, and necessary.

  • Into the Wild

    Into the Wild
    Jon Krakauer

    In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless's short life. Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless. Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.When McCandless's innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless's uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity , and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding–and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer's stoytelling blaze through every page.From the Trade Paperback edition.

  • The Water Is Wide: A Memoir

    The Water Is Wide: A Memoir
    Pat Conroy

    Pat Conroy’s bestselling memoir recalls his dramatic experience teaching impoverished black students in South Carolina Though the children of Yamacraw Island live less than two miles from the southern mainland, they can’t name the US president or the ocean that surrounds them. Most can’t read or write. Many of the students are the descendants of slaves, handicapped by poverty and isolation. When Pat Conroy arrives, an eager young teacher at the height of the civil rights movement, he finds a community still bound by the bitter effects of racism, but he is determined to broaden its members’ horizons and give them a voice. In this poignant memoir, which Newsweek called “Miraculous . . . An experience of joy,” the New York Times bestselling author of The Prince of Tides plumbs his experiences as a young teacher on an isolated South Carolina island to reveal the shocking inequalities of the American education system.

  • Angela s Ashes: A Memoir

    Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir
    Frank McCourt

    A Pulitzer Prize–winning, #1 New York Times bestseller, Angela’s Ashes is Frank McCourt’s masterful memoir of his childhood in Ireland.“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies. Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness. Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou

    Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned. Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James BaldwinFrom the Paperback edition.

  • The Glass Castle: A Memoir

    The Glass Castle: A Memoir
    Jeannette Walls

    MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST The perennially bestselling, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly) memoir from one of the world’s most gifted storytellers—soon to be a major motion picture starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts.The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered. The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

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