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The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor [Large Print] [Paperback]

Ellis Amburn
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Lrg edition (Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060197196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739410813
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,102,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

An expose of Elizabeth Taylor's private life covers her brain surgery, her successful fragrance line, her recovery from a near nervous breakdown, and her relationships with her husbands and other men. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Stormy Sexual History of Hollywood 18 May 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This book is the tabloid version of an Elizabeth Taylor biography, reading like stiched-together daily exposes in such a newspaper. It displays in endless detail the sexual orientation of virtually everyone she ever spent time with, any arguments she ever had where someone else was present, and any unladylike things she may have said or done. Her movie work is discussed in terms of how it related to her marital relationships and financial problems. Occasionally, the book also criticizes her for having a healthy sexual appetite.
Normally, biographers either like the person they write about or want to create a more accurate account of the person. Mr. Amburn did not seem to fall into either of these categories. His objective seems to be to portray some of the other people in Ms. Taylor's life more sympathetically.
The book's main thesis is that Ms. Taylor has had loving relationships in her adult life with people who are gay or bisexual and unloving ones with everyone else. This connection is also made to Ms. Taylor's relationship with her father, despite the fact that she did not have a good relationship with him. But the book doesn't get beyond that into much of the motivation. Many men were attracted to Ms. Taylor like moths to the flame, and this attraction did nothing to bring out their better qualities. She seems to have lived in a world where her physical attractiveness made her a target for fans, men, and exploiters of all sorts. Little is made of the potential to see her as victim of peoples' perceptions of someone who is physically attractive. She also doesn't seem to get enough credit for generally being an open-minded person, which may explain her lack of sexual-orientation prejudice.
According to press reports and this book, Ms.
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4.0 out of 5 stars brill 31 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a fantastic read I recommend it,although I was a bit disappointed as I thought It was going to carry on after her death,but no.Don't let this put you off/
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Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Stormy Sexual History of Hollywood 2 Oct 2000
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is the tabloid version of an Elizabeth Taylor biography, reading like stiched-together daily exposes in such a newspaper. It displays in endless detail the sexual orientation of virtually everyone she ever spent time with, any arguments she ever had where someone else was present, and any unladylike things she may have said or done. Her movie work is discussed in terms of how it related to her marital relationships and financial problems. Occasionally, the book also criticizes her for having a healthy sexual appetite.
Normally, biographers either like the person they write about or want to create a more accurate account of the person. Mr. Amburn did not seem to fall into either of these categories. His objective seems to be to portray some of the other people in Ms. Taylor's life more sympathetically.
The book's main thesis is that Ms. Taylor has had loving relationships in her adult life with people who are gay or bisexual and unloving ones with everyone else. This connection is also made to Ms. Taylor's relationship with her father, despite the fact that she did not have a good relationship with him. But the book doesn't get beyond that into much of the motivation. Many men were attracted to Ms. Taylor like moths to the flame, and this attraction did nothing to bring out their better qualities. She seems to have lived in a world where her physical attractiveness made her a target for fans, men, and exploiters of all sorts. Little is made of the potential to see her as victim of peoples' perceptions of someone who is physically attractive. She also doesn't seem to get enough credit for generally being an open-minded person, which may explain her lack of sexual-orientation prejudice.
According to press reports and this book, Ms. Taylor has had more than her share of illness, injury, and physical and emotional pain. Yet she has led a generally productive artistic life, and has played an increasingly important role in bringing sympathy and support to the cause of overcoming AIDS. It would have been natural to have focused on these positive reflections of her underlying character, and the difficulties involved in overcoming ceaseless, searing pain addiction. No one is going to be perfect under such circumstances. Yet the book wallows in her use of drugs and drinking to soften the pain, in endless tales that add little to the biography.
Naturally, Ms. Taylor is famous in part for her marital difficulties. Those should have been in the book, but they became too much of the book to be rewarding to the reader.
As someone who was a working actress for most of her life, another aspect of the book you might expect would be extended dicussions of her work. You will find relatively little of that. It is as though the author thinks that her work is of virtually no importance. I certainly was moved by her performances in National Velvet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Giant, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I liked her performances in many other movies. I would have liked to have read much more about her work in these roles where she was more successful.
The best part of this book is the beautiful color photograph of Ms. Taylor on the cover.
If you are wondering why I did not give the book a one star review, it is because the photographs are good and the writing style is perfectly adequate. The three star downgrade is for misfocus, exploitation, and a hidden agenda.
After you finish looking at Ms. Taylor's cover photograph, consider what you would like to know more about public figures. Then when you are thinking about reading a biography about that person, check to see if the biography focuses on the areas you care about before reading them. That will save you a lot of time.
Also, ask yourself how we should consider someone's life. To what extent should we consider good deeds? Bad deeds? Repentance? Motives? Physical appearance? Obstacles to progress? Ms. Taylor's life raises these issues rather nicely.
By the way, if you find a biography of Ms. Taylor that you like, please do write to me. I'd like to read it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Salacious, outrageous and nauseating 6 Mar 2005
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One sentence came to mind as I closed Ellis Amburn's biography of Elizabeth Taylor: "Why didn't Liz sue?" Amburn puts new meaning into "bad taste" with his biography, which revels unashamedly in gory details, sex secrets and every diva moment that Taylor ever had. It's embarrassing just to read.

Taylor's childhood is treated with more or less indifference -- it's her teen years that begin to spark Amburn's interest. She studies the relationships she had with men from adolescence onward, particularly the asexual ones that she had with attractive heterosexual men, and the "a-loving" ones that she had with gay ones.

That tendency, Amburn argues, took her through several unhappy marriages and plenty of explosive relationships, including ones that shattered assorted marriages. In the midst of all this, she also weathered health crises and worldwide censure with plenty of guts, becoming a sort of grande dame of the filmmaking business.

Love her or hate her, Elizabeth Taylor is a larger-than-life figure, and there's plenty in her life to fuel a biography. Many biographers have managed to describe her lifetime with grace and taste, despite her sailor's mouth and tumultuous love life. She doesn't have to be portrayed as squeaky clean, just human.

Unfortunately, Amburn usually chooses to focus on the more grotesque aspects of Taylor's life. She delves into the sex lives (complete with sometimes disgusting details) of everyone who had been involved with Taylor, especially the gay men. Which, by the way, make up a lot of the book -- Amburn attaches the "gay" tag to quite a few men, the only way that she manages to pay any attention to them. That particular preoccupation hangs over the entire book like a stormcloud. Don't the heterosexual men in Taylor's life deserve equal scrutiny?

Taste is nowhere to be found here -- Amburn has an almost obsessive interest in Taylor's breasts, and the sexual and penile details of her husbands, lovers and pals. What these things add to the history, she doesn't bother to say. The sledgehammer writing is that of a tabloid reporter, but without the restraints of an editor, Amburn appears to have gone wild.

Taylor herself comes across as a blowsy diva, without a single redeeming characteristic except her acting skills. Amburn, don't bother writing a biography if you don't have any liking or respect for your subject. Not that she's alone; her husbands are all portrayed as walking disasters of alcoholism, gambling and physical abuse, and her kids are nonentities. The only person Amburn seems to have any liking for is Taylor's costar and friend Montgomery Clift, who is shown as a suffering saint.

Ellis Amburn's "Elizabeth Taylor" is practically a how-to guide on how NOT to write a biography. Don't even bother, except for a laugh.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Same old, same old 14 May 2000
By W. Bishop - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have read most of the books written about Elizabeth Taylor and while her life makes for fascinating "truth is stranger than fiction"-style reading, I don't think this book particularly sheds any new light on her as a woman or actress. It gets especially thin in substance toward the end chapters as it relies heavily on her early more sexually active days. As is always the case with Ms. Taylor, the photos are absolute eye candy, but too few of those as well!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars UH-OH 9 Oct 2006
By Sandra Cariker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This bio is mostly interesting and included some things I didn't know before. However, I found a glaring mistake that makes me dubious about the rest of the book. The author says Earl Holliman played one of the sons in the movie Giant. This is not so. Earl Holliman played the eldest Benedict girl's husband. This irritates me no end and makes me wonder if the book is well-enough researched.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maggie the Cat 25 May 2000
By "ladylea2020bookends" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For any fan of Taylors, her role in Tennessee Williams "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is a stand-out in a career of should have beens. The author, though perhaps not intending to--make Maggie and Elizabeth almost interchangable. As a woman starved for love,she mistakes lust,pity,histrionic behavior,and melodramatic outcomes for the real..hum-drum..thing and in doing so sacrifices a great talent In a dizzying round of affairs, marriages, drugs, drink, food,and mores the pity-bad movies, the glamour that was Elizabeth Taylor quickly turns to squalor. The biggest surprise for me then, was that I finished this book actually liking this woman..alot. The author gets a bit too hung up on the gender preferences of Taylor's many men but on the whole, its a rounded, solid and human portrayal of a World Class Beauty.
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