Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Louise Brooks: A Biography” as Want to Read:
Louise Brooks: A Biography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Louise Brooks: A Biography

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  775 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews

The long-awaited republication of this captivating account of the star's life.

Louise Brooks left Wichita, Kansas, for New York City at age fifteen and lived the kind of life of which legends are made. From her beginnings as a dancer to her years in Hollywood, Berlin, and beyond, she was hailed and reviled as a new type of woman: independent, intellectually daring, an

Paperback, 624 pages
Published August 3rd 2000 by University of Minnesota Press (first published 1989)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who is breathing!
Make no mistake about it...Louise Brooks was no delicate flower. She was tough, incredibly intelligent, rude, bitchy, sharply funny, and sexy. She could stun with her mind as brilliantly as her body, and indeed took every chance to do both. Smart, beautiful, and completely original, Paris takes us deeply through Brooksie's life, from her start as a Kansas girl growing up much too fast to her final years wielding an ascerbic pen. He shows her as she really was; Paris does not sugarcoat nor devolv ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: old-movies
I reread this book after The Chaperone. I'm a huge Louise Brooks fan, drink my morning coffee out of a mug with her face emblazoned on it, my car bears a Brooksie bumper sticker, and why do I like her so much? Brooks is insanely huge talent that was totally squandered--by her, by the men in the life, by her family, by Hollywood--what happened to her can't be 100% blamed on any one person, but everyone together doomed her to failure and oblivion. Pivotal key decisions like turning down a role to ...more
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The very best thing I learned from this wonderful biography is that Louise Brooks used to call the library 30 or 40 times a day when she was elderly and trying desperately to keep her brilliant mind. Be nice to difficult old ladies, ya'll!
Chuck Golden
Jun 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bio and Film enthusiasts
I picked up this book a year and a half ago and found myself totally sucked into it. I finished it, nearly gasping and wondering what I had just read, turned to the first page, and started reading it again. Finishing it the second time, I laid it down for about five minutes and picked it up yet again and read it a third time. I finished it and promised myself that I would wait three months before reading it again, which I did. Following the forth reading I made myself wait six months. After read ...more
While I don't and have never really gotten the film history community hype about Brooks, I thought this was a rather good biography. Brooks was probably one of the most visually striking performers of the time, though her talent always seemed marginal at best. She was good at what she did, but the phenomenon of "Brooksie" has always eluded me.

Paris really dug up lots of information about her, and what I read was a pretty unlikeable person, a poseur and snob in her own industry. But that's where
Jack Blackfelt
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
This biography is so meticulous in its research that by its end, I felt as if I knew the many people this woman had been: precocious adolescent; sassy carefree dancer and girl-about-town; selfish and indulgent hipster; accidental artist trapped in the body of a sex symbol; lifelong alcoholic and sex addict; brilliant mind and forceful personality; and ultimately isolated and scared, if vindicated and celebrated old woman. I felt compassion towards and identification with her at varying points, a ...more
Jim Dooley
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I first encountered Louise Brooks when watching the Kino release of DIARY OF A LOST GIRL. Whenever she was on the screen, I couldn't take my eyes away from her. It wasn't just that she was beautiful, but she had the most natural style of acting. She created a real person on the screen, she didn't "play" one.

Her biography is equally amazing. Her incredible rises and falls in the motion picture industry were usually of her own doing. Her inability to compromise who she wanted to be gave her an inc
Jun 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Icons
Woah! Finishing this book felt like finishing the marathon... It's very, very dense and satisfyingly thorough, and I suppose that the good thing about it is that you finish the book feeling that Louise brooks remains as enigmatic as ever, even after having been regailed with so many details of her personal life. Barry Paris, while covering all Brook's films in detail, is perhaps a little too much in love with his subject, I think. I'm a huge LB fan, but I can see how some might feel that she's e ...more
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful, i read Paris' Garbo biography and i really enjoyed that but this was just as good if not better.
What a woman, very bitter and cynical at the twists and turns her life took, at times touching, scandalous and very very sad.
A remarkable person to read and learn about even if you have not heard of her or are familiar with her work on screen or in print.
A good all round read.
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I realised, after reading a few biographies from personalities of the old Hollywood era (Anita Loos, Mary Pickford, Edith Head and Grace Kelly so far) that happy endings are not that common in their world. It always feels a bit lonely and miserable at the end... Probably not more than your average person, but the contrast with their glamourous life, often starting at a very young age, is drastic. All the more striking with Louise Brooks. For the collective unconsciousness, she's the face of the ...more
Sue Blake
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
On film Louise Brooks was a spellbinding creation. Particularly in Pandora’s Box, where, with the full support and indulgence of G W Pabst, she succeeded in inventing an entirely new way for an actor to relate to a movie camera. It was entirely unconscious on her part, since she had little interest in acting and no sense of having any discernible talent as an actor.

In Hollywood she’d been viewed as one more portion of delectable female flesh, to be portioned out and manipulated as the studio pup
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Louise Brooks may today be an iconic figure of the final years of the silent cinema, but for many years she was largely unknown. Her flame burnt brightly and briefly in Hollywood and in Germany, but a series of bad career decisions and her own boredom with the shallow glitz of the California film industry doomed her to be sidelined and virtually blacklisted from the movies. It was only in the latter years of her life that her image, with the famous bobbed hair and looks that could melt the scree ...more
Rocco Thompson
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I rarely read biographies but when I do I tend to choose those of B-grade celebs such as Russ Meyer or Gypsy Rose Lee. This one definitely hit the spot even though it may be a bit insulting to call Brooksie anything less than Hollywood royalty. In recent years she's been crowned the queen of silent film but her life story is extremely interesting due to the shortness of her career and the length of her self-imposed exile. Her capricious nature tanked her career, and it was really only through so ...more
Hala Pickford
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: starlets
I get that Barry knew Louise and may or may not have had an affair with her. And for the most part his stuff on Louise isn’t bad, but it isn’t stellar either. The ending bit is devoid of emotion, parts of her life seem to go unexplained or unaccounted, and overall the prose is trying too hard to be self removed (and I liked his Garbo biography so there is an obvious conflict of interest here). The biggest problem other than the above is the book is just simply outdated. Released in the 1980s a l ...more
Have you ever read a book on a subject you're interested in, but found that even though the book is well written and you enjoy the book as you're reading it, you still find it boring? That's how I feel about this book. The book is written not only as a historical biography, but I can easily see it as a documentary because of the way Mr. Paris will interject a narrative from a person who was "there at the time." I am not knocking the book; as I mentioned, I enjoyed reading the book, that's why I' ...more
Marie Claire
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, stylish book about a fascinating woman who captured the zeitgeist of the1920's and is still recognised through her iconic image. Always in the right place at the right time; as a dancer for Zeigfield's folies, in Paris, London and New York in the shows and theatres and in Germany at the advent of what would become the silent movies. All this before she was in her thirty's. Not surprisingly the glossy photographs are stunning and will keep you coming back to look at her long after yo ...more
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loooooove this book, even if you don't know who she should read this. Louise was one of the original Ziegfeld Girls, the first girl to sport the "page boy" haircut, and the first to demonstrate the dance "The Charleston" She was THE mover and shaker of the 1920's and a girlfriend of Charlie Chaplins! You will also learn plenty of dirt on Hollywood film legends and why she left Hollywood to pursue a film career in 1920's Berlin.
Even after all of these years, she is the best example of
Annie Howe
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
What happened to the Hollywood of Louise Brooks? Brooks lived her life with wonderful abandon, and she was the perfect example of a 1920s free spirit. This book describes her sensational private life as well as the beautiful professional Brooks we see in her silent films. There will never be another Louise Brooks, and we can only imagine the Hollywood she lived in.
Dec 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
A readable biography of one of the silver screen's most lovely and mysterious stars. Wonderful production, scholarly yet goes down easy. Paris taught a film class at Pittsburgh Filmmakers back in the 80s and I got to enjoy his fussy lectures first hand. He interviewed Brooks in her winter years, so there's a lot of very personal and direct characterization here. A must for movie buffs.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fine biography of a difficult figure. The section describing the production of PANDORA'S BOX is essential reading for admirers of that film, which should mean any and everyone. Paris doesn't whitewash in any way, demonstrating what I've always felt: Louise Brooks is the most dangerous drug of all.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Read this when I was going through my "Biography/obsession with 1920's Hollywood" phase. It was interesting to me how the author started the book with a reference to Louise Brooks being molested in her small town in Kansas, and then he ended the book with that incident too. Like her whole life revolved on that one moment?..That is what has stuck with me. And, her hair is SO super cute.
Claudia Mundell
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Always hard to watch people self-destruct. Louise Brooks caught my attention by being born in Cherryvale, Kansas and her connection to Wichita. I knew nothing about her silent movie star status until I read this book. Thorough investigation of silent screen stars and early moviedom....shows how film shaped and was shaped by the first half of 20th century.
Varja Askeland
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love this book! I never stop reading it!
I'm very thankful to Barry Paris for writing this book about Louise Brooks!
Everything you want to know about the silverscreen icon, Louise Brooks, is in this book!
May I also add that she is my biggest idol! I hope she will remain immortal and never forgotten!

Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"It's simply that I make whoring as ugly as it is. . . Men are the publishers and anything that kills their sexual pleasure is not going to be allowed. . . I detest what they do to women. Women are forced into that kind of life and [the publishers] are not going to let me tell it." ~ Louise Brooks
M.E. Logan
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How beautiful, how fascinating, how complex. "If I ever bore you, it'll be with a knife." How hedonistic. How so capable to snatch failure from the jaws of success so many times.

A fascinating read.
Rachel Jones
Mar 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this biography, I think, because I can really relate to Louise Brooks' personality: a little aimless, but drawn to the finer things in life, and a natural outsider and observer. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone unless they're a Louise Brooks or silent cinema fan.
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Every detail you may want to know about Louise Brooks at every point in her long life (thus more for her fans than for the general reader). Most fascinating perhaps is the time spent on her last years as a semi-recluse. Amply illustrated and documented.
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've always been interested in Louise Brooks...I have most of her silent movies!! This is an excellent book. It does a great job profiling her life and the silent film era.
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's moving and thorough, but the bias towards sources who agreed to talk to Paris is unnerving at times. A wonderful read and highly recommended overall.
Nov 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
One of my favourite film star biographies. Louise Brooks' extraordinary life was composed equally of success and failure, and Barry Paris's writing has an eloquence that mirrors his subject.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Lulu in Hollywood
  • Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild
  • Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara
  • The Parade's Gone By...
  • Swanson on Swanson
  • Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood
  • Without Lying Down: Screenwriter Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood
  • Silent Stars
  • The Movies, Mr. Griffith, And Me
  • Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino
  • Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture
  • Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood
  • Buster Keaton Remembered
  • Marlene Dietrich by Her Daughter
  • Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood
  • My Wonderful World of Slapstick
  • Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever
  • Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels: The Lives, Careers, and Misfortunes of 14 Hard-Luck Girls of the Silent Screen

Share This Book