My reviewrating: 2 of 5 stars
When I read "most important but least known" about someone, my gut reaction is "why?" All too often, it's because they weren't the most important, hence the least known. In the case of Russell, that seems to be true.
Russell (according to this book) was always on the verge of The Big Break: almost had a contract with Columbia, almost became the fourth Talking Head, almost... almost... The reason always appears to be that he was good, but not quite what was wanted, or a little too not-quite-a-good-fit for the others. Hence the "least known" part.
As for "most important", it depends on your definition, I suppose. If you count as important those who know a lot of people, can drop a lot of names, and Were There When, Russell qualifies. Did he ultimately have a huge influence on the careers of the others whose lives he touched? That's debatable.
Tim Lawrence has certainly done his research, but at times I felt he was dropping names to impress upon the reader exactly How Important Russell Was (which, if it were true, wouldn't then lead to pages of non-Russell material). It's also a bad sign when people are introduced and reintroduced in each chapter, almost as though the author assumes we won't be able to keep track of, or care about, them from before.
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