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It's Been a Good Life Hardcover – Mar 1 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; 1 edition (March 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573929689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573929684
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 16 x 23.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #212,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Crowe on Jan. 22 2003
Format: Hardcover
This compression of Isaac Asimov's earlier autobiographical works will principally be remembered as the book that announced to the world that Asimov died of AIDS. But as a one-volume summary of his life, it enjoys only mixed success.
This book both benefits and suffers from its source material: the best chapters are those on Asimov's early life and career, and were extracted from his first volume of autobiography, In Memory Yet Green, which was strongly narrative and, as a result, stronger; the second volume, In Joy Still Felt, was more anecdotal and quotidian, as Asimov settled into the routine of a workaholic full-time writer, and as a result yielded less insightful material to excerpt.
Like Asimov's third autobiography, I. Asimov: A Memoir, and his collection of letters, Yours, Isaac Asimov, the chapters are topical. While some chapters are solid, others are quite thin: the chapters that simply collect funny anecdotes could have been dispensed with. For example, Chapter 26, "The Bible", includes a couple of not-very-illuminating anecdotes related to Asimov's Guide to the Bible, and could have been folded, along with the chapter on humanism, into a longer chapter on religion and unbelief. I would have preferred fewer, longer chapters that went into more depth. Substantial introductory and connective material to piece Asimov's own work together would have strengthened the book; instead, we're given passages that sometimes look like they were excerpted, word by word, with a razor blade.
On a more mundane level, the proofreading is sometimes surprisingly bad, with several misspelled authors' names and even one book title ("I, Robert"?!?) -- just the sort of thing that Isaac would have found bothersome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 6 2002
Format: Hardcover
Isaac Asimov can justifably lay claim to having been one of the most prolific writers of modern times, producing science fiction, fantasy, essays and other works. His wife Janet Asimov here edits her husband's personal thoughts about his life and works, including excerpts from his letters and insights into his life experiences throughout the process. Fans of Asimov will find It's Been A Good Life to be a warm and revealing literary biography.
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By Andrew on March 19 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's been a good life is a good way to describe Asimov's life as he describes it in his own words. An autobiographical account of his life, with inserts by his wife, this book details Asimov's life in a funny and interesting volume.
He starts with his birth and childhood, which is an interesting feat. Not many people can remember their young lives. From there, he describes how he became interested in reading, then writing and finally how he first became published. From there, he describes his academic and writing lives in a clear, paced fasion. Everything blends in perfectly, from birth to death.
I was paticularly fasinated by his writing life, as a fan of his. For most of the book, he describes how he became a novelist, then how he stopped in favor of scientific resources and then how he returned to fiction. Because he wrote this in the first person view, it is entirly too easy to fall right into his head, and see things the way he did. This is expecially true towards the end of the book and his life. I really got the sense that he had too much to do, that he wanted to do and didn't have nearly enough time to accomplish it all.
I have read many of his science fiction novels, and from this book, learned a lot about what drove him to writing the stories I enjoy, but also about his life in general. There was much that I had no idea about. For example, he was in the Army, died of AIDs, due to a blood transfusion, and went through writing cycles.
Paticularly helpful was the editing that his wife did. On almost every section, she inserted references to his life that explained what he was talking about a little better. This book would have been very difficult and/or confusing if they had not been put in.
In addition, this book is an extremely fast read.
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By Emily Rosen on May 11 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is definitely worth reading, even if you have read previous autobiographies. The chapter of most interest and emotional impact is the one that describes how he died, while giving very wise (almost mystical) advice on how to cope with loss and death. A wonderful book.
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