The Many Lives of Mike Nichols

The Many Lives of Mike Nichols

The life that’s described in Mark Harris’s new book was really multiple lives, intersecting again and again with the heart of American culture.

Here is the immigrant boy named Igor fleeing Berlin. Here is half of the brilliant improvisational duo Nichols and May. Here is the first-time film director who caught the exact tone of 1960s youth in The Graduate. Here is the director and in a sense co-author of Neil Simon’s Broadway plays that described and poked fun at a generation. Here is the cutting, clever, self-indulgent, insightful figure lurking behind much of what happened in American entertainment over the next forty years.

Learning about Mike Nichols’s multiple lives and coming to realize their scope and power was, to me, astonishing. Nearly as impressive was Mark Harris’s perfectly tuned account, which leads us through each beat of the story in a way that’s transparent and sure-handed.

Harris’s book invites us on a tour of late twentieth-century American culture, as viewed over the shoulder of one of its giants.

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