Sontag: Her Life and Work

Sontag: Her Life and Work

A Finalist for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography

One of O Magazine’s Best Books of the Year

One of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Best Books of the Year

One of the Seattle Times' Most Interesting Biographies of the Year

One of New York Magazine's Best and Biggest Books to Read This Fall

One of the New York Times’ 17 New Books to Watch For in September

One of the Washington Post’s Ten Books to Read this September

The definitive portrait of one of the American Century’s most towering intellectuals: her writing and her radical thought, her public activism and her hidden private face

No writer is as emblematic of the American twentieth century as Susan Sontag. Mythologized and misunderstood, lauded and loathed, a girl from the suburbs who became a proud symbol of cosmopolitanism, Sontag left a legacy of writing on art and politics, feminism and homosexuality, celebrity and style, medicine and drugs, radicalism and Fascism and Freudianism and Communism and Americanism, that forms an indispensable key to modern culture. She was there when the Cuban Revolution began, and when the Berlin Wall came down; in Vietnam under American bombardment, in wartime Israel, in besieged Sarajevo. She was in New York when artists tried to resist the tug of money—and when many gave in. No writer negotiated as many worlds; no serious writer had as many glamorous lovers. Sontag tells these stories and examines the work upon which her reputation was based. It explores the agonizing insecurity behind the formidable public face: the broken relationships, the struggles with her sexuality, that animated—and undermined—her writing. And it shows her attempts to respond to the cruelties and absurdities of a country that had lost its way, and her conviction that fidelity to high culture was an activism of its own. 

Utilizing hundreds of interviews conducted from Maui to Stockholm and from London to Sarajevo—and featuring nearly one hundred images—Sontag is the first book based on the writer’s restricted archives, and on access to many people who have never before spoken about Sontag, including Annie Leibovitz. It is a definitive portrait—a great American novel in the form of a biography.

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    Sontag: Her Life and Work Reviews

  • Michael

    Exhaustive in detail, Sontag meticulously charts the life and career of the famous essayist. Across four wide-ranging parts Moser considers how Sontag transformed from a would-be academic with modest ...

  • Chrissie

    I just do not know where to start in describing Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser. It is very well researched. As the title indicates, it covers both her life and her works. Her relationship...

  • Michelle

    Sontag: Her Life and Work (2019) written by Benjamin Moser, totally captures the complexities of this dark literary lady and cultural icon. Born Susan Rosenblatt (1933-2004) to Lithuanian Jewish paren...

  • Loring Wirbel

    I found it a little bit odd that some reviewers of the ARC of this book complained that they did not want to waste 700 pages reading about such a difficult person. I tend to think of gushing hagiograp...

  • Michelle

    Sontag: Her Life and Work (2019) written by Benjamin Moser, totally captures the complexities of this dark literary lady and cultural icon. Born Susan Rosenblatt (1933-2004) to Lithuanian Jewish paren...

  • Matthew Wilder

    Susan was, beyond all else, an example. She was an avatar of erudition and high purpose that we didn’t have in American letters in the twentieth century. The closest comparable know-it-all is Harold...

  • David M

    10/30 - this biography has inspired me to revisit some of the essays in Where the Stress Falls... dismaying. There comes a time to put away childish things. This is kitsch. ‘Culture’ as kitschy Eu...

  • C. S.

    The year is 2008. I am 18 or 19, but just beginning to emerge from the borderline codependent relationship that had been my homeschooling experience, I think mentally I was probably closer to 14 or 15...

  • James Murphy

    I've always admired Susan Sontag. I don't like her fiction that much,, but I do like her essays, though I haven't read all of them yet. She was an interesting essayist and thinker, and was an interest...

  • Bruin Mccon

    DNF at 8%. I’ve read a few Sontag bios and will surely read more in the future. This one was thick and dense like a textbook. Just didn’t do it for me....