Sometimes all we have is the courage of our convictions. But not all convictions are created equal. In fact, some are downright delusional. And once a foolish notion sinks its teeth into the famous or the powerful, look out–the impact can have profound consequences for the rest of us. So it’s nothing short of gratifying when our most bullheaded and self-righteous leading lights insist on getting their way only to be proven egregiously embarrassingly wrong. From politicians to pontiffs, movie stars to moguls, and artists to inventors, Certitude presents short biographical sketches of notoriously stubborn individuals who were certain they were right–with laughable, disturbing, and often disastrous results.
Earning a place among the greatest historical and contemporary bullheads are: •Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican friar who failed to place his own vanities on the bonfire. •Carry A. Nation, the saloon smasher who didn’t have a temperate bone in her teetotaling body. •Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes series, who lacked the deductive reasoning he bestowed on his own creation. •Joseph Stalin, the hard-line Soviet leader who had a soft spot after all. •Madonna, the queen of pop, who isn’t just a material girl: She’s embraced Kabbalah and the doctrine of reincarnation–in other words, she’ll be back!
Informative, irreverent, and brilliantly illustrated by the caricaturist Edward Sorel, Certitude is a book for our time.
Adam Begley is the author of Updike. He was the books editor of The New York Observer for twelve years. He has been a Guggenheim fellow and a fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Financial… More about Adam Begley