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Leo Braudy is a University Professor and the Leo S. Bing Chair in English and American Literature at the University of Southern California. He previously taught at Yale, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins University. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a Senior Scholar Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, as well as a writer in residence at the American Academy in Rome. His book Jean Renoir: The World of His Films was a finalist for the National Book Award. Another of his books, The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Harper's. Mr. Braudy lives in Los Angeles.
In a masterful historical analysis that moves from the Homeric age to People , Braudy demonstrates that the elusive concept of fame changes as its historical context changes. More than two millennia ago the urge to fame existed because political power could be centralized by controlling imagery. Because communication was slow and lives brief, some became famous only in retrospect. To be famous today means only to be talked about, and it is possible to win instant recognition worldwide. The chase for fame has both ``inspired and warped individuals and cultures,'' as Braudy demonstrates with his subtle portraits of Alexander, Caesar and Augustus, Jesus and Augustine, Charlemagne and Dante, Napoleon and Byron, Washington and Lincoln, Lindbergh and Hemingway. A solid and absorbing work that will be useful in many academic disciplines. Milton Meltzer, New York