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Van's Pick: My Name is Barbra by Barbra Streisand

In her own words, the living legend tells the story of her life and extraordinary career, from growing up in Brooklyn to her first star-making appearances in NY nightclubs to her breakout performance in Funny Girl to the long string of successes in every medium in the years that followed.

Recently there have been a number of celebrity autobiographies released, but none so anticipated as the Barbra Streisand autobiography My Name is Barbra.   This whopping book is 970 pages and has taken ten years for her to write.   There is also an audible book version narrated by Streisand herself.  

I asked a 23 year old if they had heard of Streisand and they had not which is terribly sad.   I think she is one of the greatest singer/actresses of our time surpassing even Judy Garland.   She has made number one albums in every decade for sixty years.   She has won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards.   Streisand has won the American Film Institute’s  Lifetime Achievement Award and the Kennedy Center Honor.   With the Yentyl film, she was the first woman to write, produce, direct and star in a movie.    She had an incredible vocal range especially in her early and mid career and her acting background really helped her with emoting during her performances.   She has touched me like few performers have.  


This autobiography was well worth the wait.   Barbra is outspoken, hilarious, and charming.   She discusses her upbringing losing her father, a scholar, when she was very young and growing up with an self possessed mother and a disinterested stepfather.   She examines her early club performing and her eventual Broadway debuts in I Can Get It For You Wholesale and Funny Girl.   Her career then skyrockets thanks to her albums, concerts, and film.    Her huge movie hits like The Way We Were are discussed extensively as well as her lesser know films such as Up the Sandbox.   Streisand, being a director, of course discusses way she could have improved her many films.  

She devotes chapters to her many friendships.   She details an amusing story with Marlon Brando.   He comes to visit her and cannot get out of the car due to his extreme body weight.   He is literally propped in the car by his steering wheel.   She speaks briefly about her celebrity affairs, never revealing too much detail but giving the reader enough to stay interested.   She devotes chapters to  her marriages with Elliot Gould and James Brolin and of course discusses her son Jason.   Many times in the past Streisand was misrepresented by the press.   This book gives her the chance to tell her side of the story and to state how she was misunderstood.   She does devote chapters to her politics which some readers might fight aggravating.   Her writing style is straightforward and she is never boring with her opinions and statements.   Photos are included.   I was very satisfied with this book .  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.  

- Van, Reference Librarian


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