By Richard Rhodes
Doubleday, $26.95, 261 pages
For many readers nonfiction is an unapproachable field, relegated to staunch biography and gregarious histories. Hedy’s Folly by Richard Rhodes breaks these stereotypes and made a nonfiction fan of this fiction enthusiast. The book chronicles the interweaving biographies of Hedy Lamarr, international film star and sex icon of the 1930s and 1940s, and George Antheil a composer and writer of the same era. Together these unlikely inventors collaborate to create several war-altering weapons’ technologies.
It is not every day a biography grabs a reader’s attention and keeps it through the very last page, but author Richard Rhodes succeeds in creating a fascinating story from real life adventures. Instead of formulaic writing explaining each event that occurs in chronological order, Rhodes writes a story with real-life events that feels like a well crafted narrative. Rhodes has one drawback to his writing and that is a tendency to be overly descriptive. It is obvious he enjoys war facts and technology because he tends to spend pages at a time describing them and quickly breezing over information about music, writing and film. This isn’t necessarily a problem with the story, but it is something for people to be aware of if they are hesitant around war facts and technological descriptions of military torpedoes. Hedy Lamarr’s life is fascinating, as is George Antheil’s, any reader would be satisfied reading this eloquent exploration of their lives.
Reviewed by Andrew Keyser