John Gerassi (jer-assy), former journalist, currently a professor of political science at Queens College of the City University of New York. He's written an unusual biography of Jean-Paul Sartre. Gerassi is Sartre's official biographer and was a personal friend, yet he is neither totally objective or uncritical. The book includes Gerassi's own observations as well as material culled from over 100 hours of interviews with Sartre and complete access to Sartre's papers.
Book critic John Leonard says that Annie Cohen-Solal's examination of the philosopher's life is both thoughtful and exhaustive. Ronald Hayman, on the other hand, seeks to tear down the French writer, to unclear ends.
Deirdre Bair is known for her biography of playwright Samuel Beckett, "Samuel Beckett: A Biography." She is now the "designated" (not "official") biographer for French feminist and writer Simone de Beauvoir. She recently interviewed de Beauvoir for the first time in Paris, and joins the show to discuss their conversation.