56 episodes

What is the secret to writing a really juicy biography? Author Caroline Baum interviews seasoned players and persistent newcomers who share their experience of navigating sensitive territory in the search for the real story behind a person’s life. Whether they are writing about the famous or the forgotten, whether their version of events is authorised or
unauthorised, biography is a high-stakes quest full of twists and turns.

Life Sentences Podcast Caroline Baum

    • Arts
    • 4.9 • 57 Ratings

What is the secret to writing a really juicy biography? Author Caroline Baum interviews seasoned players and persistent newcomers who share their experience of navigating sensitive territory in the search for the real story behind a person’s life. Whether they are writing about the famous or the forgotten, whether their version of events is authorised or
unauthorised, biography is a high-stakes quest full of twists and turns.

    Talking About A Revolution

    Talking About A Revolution

    An elegant Trotskyist, Michael Pablo grew up in Greece to become an urbane revolutionary, who made his presence felt at many of the most significant uprisings of the 20th century in an attempt to build what he called self-managed socialism.

     

    Partnered by his dynamic and fearless wife Elli Dyovoumoti, Pablo was often in great danger, spent time in prison, and made enemies among fellow socialists. But when it came to the Algerian uprising of 1962 against the French, he rolled up his intellectual sleeves and got his hands dirty, helping the Algerians to arm themselves by setting up a gun factory. The story of this venture is worth a movie in its own right.

     

    Clashing with Castro, supporting Solidarity in Poland, Pablo was an influential force without ever becoming a leader. He was ahead of his time in his support for fully-fledged feminism and maintained a strong circle of friends throughout his life.

     

    Hall Greenland’s biography, The Well-Dressed Revolutionary, is an admiring portrait of a man and a time when socially progressive ideas had real momentum and it felt as if the world were tilting towards a raised consciousness on equality and human rights.
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    • 54 min
    Acing It

    Acing It

    She is part Japanese, part Haitian but trained and lives in the US. Nothing about  Naomi Osaka is conventional, but she forged her career in the mold of her idol Serena Williams- and then beat her. Along the way, she struggled with mental health and admitted that in public, carried the Japanese flag into an empty stadium at the Tokyo Olympics during Covid, and attracted Asian sponsors desperate for a role model their customers could relate to. Oh and she also became a mother.

     

    Ben Rothenberg’s sympathetic biography takes the reader off the court into the inner circle of coaches, managers, family and fans to paint a portrait of a complex, elusive young woman who is one of the most intriguing champions on the circuit today.
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    By George

    By George

    In George Harrison, The Reluctant Beatle, veteran rock journalist and biographer Philip Norman (author of the definitive Beatles book, Shout!) gives us an access all areas portrait of a paradoxical figure who found fame a burden but emerged from the band, to grow into a new creative phase of life that was rewarding and productive in unexpected ways.

     

    Based on extensive interviews with those who knew Harrison intimately,  this is a biography that is not always flattering to its subject. Harrison presents as a series of contradictions, but there is no doubt that he was eclipsed and under-estimated by Lennon and McCartney in the Beatles. He is, however, credited with writing one of its greatest hits and introducing the band to Eastern music, through his interest in learning to play the sitar, thanks to his deep friendship with Ravi Shankar.

     

    Later he enjoyed global success in his own right, as well as becoming a pioneer of pop philanthropy, producing the landmark concert for Bangladesh and had a second career as a successful independent film producer, financing his friends The Pythons Life of Brian.
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    • 58 min
    Healing Hands

    Healing Hands

    Perth based skin and burns surgeon Professor Fiona Wood is one of the most trusted and admired figures in Australian life and yet it took her years to agree to biographer Sue Williams request to let her tell her life story.

     

    Time poor and a workaholic, she eventually relented. Williams also talks to her colleagues and patients and recreates the scenes on the ground following the Bali bombing to paint a rounded but nonetheless admiring picture of a very determined medical pioneer who combines exceptional surgical skills with an excellent bedside manner and a holistic vision of how the body heals.
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    • 50 min
    To Bee or not to Bee

    To Bee or not to Bee

    One of the most puzzling and flamboyant women on the streets of Sydney in the twentieth century, Bee Miles became the stuff of legend, a celebrity in her own lifetime, but also a troubled soul who spent time in asylums and in and out of jail. In  Bee Miles, Australia’s famous bohemian rebel, Rose Ellis uncovers a medical diagnosis that sheds new light on what caused Bee’s notorious episodes of misbehaviour in public places.

     

    She also examines the intense and fraught dynamic between Bee and her powerful father, and paints the scene when Sydney was bubbling with new ideas from a heady collision of the rationalist society, rising nationalism and a flourishing underground bohemian scene. Bee was at the centre of everything, but also had nowhere to live.  Just how did this intelligent, infuriating, unpredictable, outspoken woman become famous for being homeless?
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Playing By The Rules

    Playing By The Rules

    Catharine Lumby is the first out of the gate of two biographers to tackle the many-faceted life of author Frank Moorhouse, who was a well known bon vivant, bushwalker and prolific author of fiction and non fiction. He was also an active campaigner on issues including censorship and copyright law.

     

    Lumby’s biography, Frank Moorhouse: A Life, is organised thematically and relies on her longstanding friendship with Moorhouse for its very personal approach as she navigates his archive selectively. In doing so she reflects on the moral dilemmas that face a biographer who is close not only to their subject but respectful of the people in his orbit who may wish to remain anonymous.

     

    The result is an intimate introduction to an intriguing figure in Australian culture, who knew how to make a mean martini.
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    • 51 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
57 Ratings

57 Ratings

Public transport lover ,

How does she do it?

I am late to Wifedom, but glad I saved it for a pre-Christmas holiday read at Kiama.. what a triumph it is. Reluctant to let it go I re-listened to Caroline Baum’s interview with Anna Funda. Another smooth as silk interview with an author on top of her subject.

Curious and Curioser ,

Essential listening for book lovers

What a brilliant concept and so well executed. I feel like I’m in the room with the authors and Caroline Baum such is the intimacy of these conversations. Engaging, authoritative and always fascinating. Can’t wait for the next series

casey eh ,

This is my new go to podcast for walking

Caroline Baum is an engaging, incisive and authoritative host. Her interviews with authors explore not just the subject matter of their books but the art of biography and the strange and risky business of writing about other people’s lives. Her skills as an interviewer are clear in the framing and delivery of her questions and the quality of her attention. And her enthusiasm for her subject matter is infectious.

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