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The Devil Problem and Other True Stories [Hardcover]

David Remnick
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug 1996
Readers know from his now classic Lenin's Tomb that Remnick is a superb portraitist who can bring his subjects to life and reveal them in such surprising ways as to justify comparison to Dickens, Balzac, or Proust. In this collection, Remnick's gift for character is sharper than ever, whether he writes about Gary Hart stumbling through life after Donna Rice or Mario Cuomo, who now presides over a Saturday morning radio talk show, fielding questions from crackpots, or about Michael Jordan's awesome return to the Chicago Bulls -- or Reggie Jackson's last times at bat.

Remnick's portraits of such disparate characters as Alger Hiss and Ralph Ellison, Richard Nixon and Elaine Pagels, Gerry Adams and Marion Barry are unified by this extraordinary ability to create a living character, so that the pieces in this book, taken together, constitute a splendid pageant of the representative characters of our time.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (T); 1 edition (Aug 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679452559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679452553
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.7 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,226,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The "general assigment" feature writer is becoming a lost art and title at most newspapers.
Whether big-city newsrooms to rural dispatches, the tendency is to specialize or eliminate. Remnick takes us back, and show's us the way of the old masters in his recent compilation, "The Devil Problem." Most of the stories are from Esquire and the New Yorker, where he's now a staff writer. Remnick warmed up with a ten-year tenure at the Washington Post, where he covered Glasnost for the paper, converted his experiences into a book, "Lenin's Tomb," and won a Pulitzer for his efforts. Fellow New Yorker staffer Henry Louis Gates Jr. referred to him as "The Michael Jordan of Journalism.'". Others profiled in "The Devil Problem" range from Nobel Prize winners to retiring baseball players, from performance-art rebounder Dennis Rodman to the dashing IRA demagogue Gerry Adams. My favorites underlined that gamut: a profile on the waning career of Reggie Jackson, and a tale of avarice and academica re: a pair of Shakespeare scholars ---- one, an Oxford-educated professor and Hollywood TV producer, the other an aspiring doctoral student with bills to pay and, hence, pride to swallow.

Perhaps the best piece is Remnick's portrait of legendary New York journalist Murray Kempton
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is excellent. 24 Oct 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a terrific book. I have appreciated Remnick's profiles in the NEW YORKER, but here, read one after another, they have a cumulative power. Remnick's prose is clear and graceful. He also achieves a feat rare in profile writing: He manages to let us know what he thinks without ever clouding the reader's ability to make his or her own judgments. Bravo!
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Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
David Remnick is definitely one of the most important non-fiction writers of our time. In this book, he shows the range of his powerful profile-writing. After reading each profile, you feel like you are now intimately acquianted with the person. Remnick goes beyond the superficial, relating the story behind each individual and the circumstances surrounding their claim to fame. This is a must-read for anyone who attempts to write profiles and biographies. It should also be a must-read for any reader out there.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful profiles coupled with beautiful prose-Buy it now! 10 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
David Remnick is definitely one of the most important non-fiction writers of our time. In this book, he shows the range of his powerful profile-writing. After reading each profile, you feel like you are now intimately acquianted with the person. Remnick goes beyond the superficial, relating the story behind each individual and the circumstances surrounding their claim to fame. This is a must-read for anyone who attempts to write profiles and biographies. It should also be a must-read for any reader out there.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is excellent. 24 Oct 1997
By wilkat@erols.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a terrific book. I have appreciated Remnick's profiles in the NEW YORKER, but here, read one after another, they have a cumulative power. Remnick's prose is clear and graceful. He also achieves a feat rare in profile writing: He manages to let us know what he thinks without ever clouding the reader's ability to make his or her own judgments. Bravo!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inquisitive journalism 22 July 2001
By Ping Lim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Some readers might question why David Remnick revisited incidents that happened long time ago, but the book itself is still a wonderful read. The book tackled with several notable characters that mattered to the United States but for outsiders like myself, this book is a gem for providing me with backgrounds upon characters like Alger Hiss (one episode of "West Wing" dealt with the grand daughter of a dying man, based upon Alger Hiss' character who sought a pardon from the President before he passed away), George Stephanopoulos (who played a pivotal role in the Clinton's campaign & his head to head with Dick Morris (again, reminding us of "West Wing"), Marion Barry (the article questioned if segregation in the States is working better than integration, & relating that with the the recent Southern State of Mississipi debacle over retaining the Rebel Cross in its flag or not), Elaine Pagles (which brought to our attention the origin of Devil & questioned over the validity of Christianity in contemporary setting comparing it against Dead Sea Scroll), & so forth. For light-hearted moment, there were articles on Michael Jordan & Dennis Rodman (describing the icon that the initial has become, & the honesty of the latter populist who is enjoying the moment for who he is). Then, there were articles upon international characters such as Gerry Adams (which possibly hinted that a terrorist shall always remain a terrorist irrespective of the PR exercise to make him who he's not), the celebration of Kenzaburo Oe's works which were inspired by his undying devotion to his handicapped child, Hikari Oe, who himself was acclaimed as an accomplished musician). Writing is David Remnick's passion & journalism has been part of his life & he wouldn't let the chance slip by without writing of 3 distinctive news personalities such as Ben Bradlee (cliche of networking & manipulation thru media via influential people), Al Neuharth (of making every news positive reading by all people), Murray Kempton (of bringing dignity & integrity into the art of journalism). Needless to say, news is perishable. Today's news is history tomorrow & much of what's featured here are history now but it's good to read of the past so that we undertood more profoundly of what made USA today, & the celebration of the art of inquisitive journalism. Highly recommended.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a praising summary from a fellow-full-time journalist. 26 Jan 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The "general assigment" feature writer is becoming a lost art and title at most newspapers.
Whether big-city newsrooms to rural dispatches, the tendency is to specialize or eliminate. Remnick takes us back, and show's us the way of the old masters in his recent compilation, "The Devil Problem." Most of the stories are from Esquire and the New Yorker, where he's now a staff writer. Remnick warmed up with a ten-year tenure at the Washington Post, where he covered Glasnost for the paper, converted his experiences into a book, "Lenin's Tomb," and won a Pulitzer for his efforts. Fellow New Yorker staffer Henry Louis Gates Jr. referred to him as "The Michael Jordan of Journalism.'". Others profiled in "The Devil Problem" range from Nobel Prize winners to retiring baseball players, from performance-art rebounder Dennis Rodman to the dashing IRA demagogue Gerry Adams. My favorites underlined that gamut: a profile on the waning career of Reggie Jackson, and a tale of avarice and academica re: a pair of Shakespeare scholars ---- one, an Oxford-educated professor and Hollywood TV producer, the other an aspiring doctoral student with bills to pay and, hence, pride to swallow.

Perhaps the best piece is Remnick's portrait of legendary New York journalist Murray Kempton
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars clear, well-written profiles 28 Nov 1999
By Al Kihano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
No one writes better profiles than David Remnick, and you can find plenty of them in this book. From his language to his structure to his unfailingly adept choice of detail, he is a master.
My one caveat is that _The Devil Problem_ doesn't always succeed in *making* the subject interesting, at least not in the cases of the most public figures. You need to go into the Reggie Jackson profile with a basic interest in Reggie Jackson. But Remnick's profiles are all comprehensive and eviably well-written. If you want to know what Reggie's up to these days, I doubt you could find a better short profile to satisfy your curiosity.
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