Biographies provide us with insight into a life that may be similar or totally opposite of the lifestyle that we enjoy. It is often more interesting than fiction. DVD biographies, sometimes produced as documentaries, are entertaining as well as educational. I especially enjoyed viewing the original video footage included in both of these biographies.
“You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train” documents the life and work of Howard Zinn. His occupations include labor organizer, WWII bombardier, academic rebel, leader of civil disobedience, peace activist, historian, author and playwright. After his stint in the Air Force during WWII, he became increasingly aware of the aftermath of the bombs that he dropped from afar. These events led to his passion for creating peace and championing those who seek justice. He was hired by Spelman College in Atlanta, a school for Black women. Here he became involved in the civil rights movement. He was fired for supporting a student protest against the college administration. I found this ironic that the administration would fire him for supporting a protest for student rights yet they supported his work fighting for civil rights. He spent the rest of his career teaching political science at Boston University and promoting peaceful resolutions to world challenges. His most popular work is “A People’s History of the United States”. Many of his other books and much more information about Zinn are available in the library catalog.
“Les Paul Chasing Sound” is a look into the life of musician, inventor and architect of rock ‘n roll Les Paul. I certainly was aware of his guitar work, but never realized the impact that he had on the music industry. He was the first to develop multitrack and layering techniques that revolutionized recording. He and partner Mary Ford once laid 24 tracks of guitar and vocals for one recording. Often these early recordings were done in different rooms of their home. In order for his guitar instrumentals to be heard above the other instruments in the band, he invented the first solid body guitar. This was later marketed to Gibson and electrified. Many famous rockers of today are indebted to Paul for contemporary guitars and the sounds that emanate from them. There are a number of Les Paul’s music CDs and two biographies in book format in the library catalog. — Rita