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A Nobel Prize for Biography

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Chapter Summary

Biography is one of man's oldest endeavors. Ever since classical times biographers have sought to record with honesty the real lives of their fellow humans, separating truth from myth. But for the most part biographers work slowly and devotedly at their task, seldom taking less than three or four years to complete it sometimes even 37 years-and-counting, as for example Robert Caro, preparing to publish, in the United States, the fourth volume of his epic biography of President Lyndon B. Johnson. It is in almost every respect a labor of love, honesty and compassion. Something biographers have been doing since Xenophon, Plutarch and Suetonius. In funding the original Nobel Prizes, Alfred Nobel wished to reward those who confer the 'greatest benefit to mankind'. Biography has been conferring that benefit for two millennia.

Keywords: biography; Lyndon B. Johnson; Nobel Prizes; Plutarch; Robert Caro; Suetonius; United States

10.1163/9789004274709_021
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