First Encounters: A Book of Memorable Meetings

Genre: History, Pop Culture; Author: Edward Sorel, Nancy Caldwell Sorel

A collection of first meetings between famous people, First Encounters: A Book of Memorable Meetings is a tangy blend of bons mots and minute histories about true encounters both fated (Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce) and unexpected (Ingrid Bergman and Howard Hughes). Mussolini called Hitler ”a mad little clown” after receiving him in Venice in 1934. Sarah Bernhardt fainted in Thomas Edison’s arms while touring his New Jersey laboratory in 1880. And when Billie Holiday met a dancer named Maya Angelou in 1958, she said, ”You’re going to be famous. But it won’t be for singing.” Caldwell Sorel’s writing is vivid, if mannered, and Edward Sorel, whose singularly stylized drawings often appear in The New Yorker, has outdone himself with this project. Who else would depict Nixon meeting Madame Mao Tse-tung as a pig tipping his hat to a dragon? A-

Originally posted November 25 1994 — 12:00 AM EST

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