Book Review: Mark Harris's Inspiring Bio 'Mike Nichols: A Life'

He was the one everyone wanted to sit next to at dinner. Though Joseph Epstein didn’t mention him in his excellent book Charm: The Elusive Enchantment, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that Epstein would view the late Mike Nichols as a certain embodiment of charming.

One of the world’s most accomplished directors on both stage and screen, Nichols was also a polymath. He could speak knowledgeably about most everything, and could tell stories that had those lucky enough to dine next to him, or be directed by him, spellbound. No less than Richard Burton wrote in his diaries that of all the remarkable men he met (we’re talking about someone who knew Churchill and Picasso, among many others), Noel Coward and Mike Nichols uniquely had “the capacity to change the world when they walk into a room.”

Epstein wrote at length about Coward’s charm in his aforementioned book, but the speculation here is that if he were to read Mark Harris’s endlessly interesting new biography of Nichols, titled Mike Nichols: A Life, that he would add a new chapter about this most amazing of individuals. 


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